How Do I Fix Stress?-3 Lessons To Improve Health

How Do I Fix Stress?-3 Lessons To Improve Health

How Did Losing My Dogs Teach Me 3 Life Lessons for a Healthier Life?

This past weekend my two dogs became escapees after shimmying the gate open in our back yard. They were gone for approximately 36 hours and I was a wreck. …

5 Ways to Prevent Burnout

5 Ways to Prevent Burnout

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Work-related stress is at an all time high and progressing steadily. It has been estimated that 75-90% of patient visits to primary care practitioners are due to stress-related illness.* Stress and busy have become synonymous; while being touted as a badge of honor.

We have become a society that is always connected to technology, never taking a break for fear of missing out on something (FOMO anyone?). We have businesses to build, sales to make and connections to create. Who has time to stop and relax? The ironic part is that without the rest, our best efforts are ineffectual.

Stress causes fatigue, sleeplessness or over-sleeping, feelings of lethargy and depression, weight gain, headaches, muscle pain, digestive issues, low libido, increasing symptoms of PMS and menopause, irritability, poor skin and tissue health, hormone imbalance, chronic sickness, and the list goes on and on.

So if a person is suffering from these symptoms and has an inability to manage stress, how effective can they be in their daily work? We simply can’t do the great work we are passionate about when we feel terrible every single day. The question then becomes, how do we manage stress and prevent ourselves from burnout so that we can continue to build business and increase success?

Here are five strategies that will get you on the right track:

1. Have a plan

Most people that struggle with feelings of overwhelm and stress don’t necessarily have a plan of action on how they will tackle the day. We may stroll into the office and get sucked into the email matrix for hours on end, responding to email, sending email, reading more email, responding and sending a bit more. Instead of doing the deep work that moves the needle in their business, we become daily email managers. When working without a plan of action, it’s easy at the end of the day to wonder what in the world we accomplished. The best sales reps have a distinct plan each day. They know who they are talking to and the purpose of the conversation. There are outcomes from each activity that will lead to achieving goals. To manage your day, use these tips to create a plan that will have you working with purpose.

  • Work with intention

  • Use a calendar or planner to stay on target for the day, week, month, and year

  • Work with an objective in mind

  • Plan each quarter backwards from your goals.

2. Prioritize your to-do list

It’s very easy (and normal) to brain dump all of the things we need to do each day and week on a list and hope for the best when it comes to accomplishing the tasks we listed. When the list is arbitrary and without focus, it’s hard to feel productive and easy to feel pressured. In order to conquer the overwhelm, start with three tasks on the list that you feel will push your business and success forward, rather than simply “busy work”.  Getting caught in the paperwork matrix distracts us from the deep work that generates revenue. While I could organize my desk over and over or arrange files and pens (ROYGBIV is how I roll), it doesn’t replace the activity of actually getting on the phone to talk to prospects or creating content for my programs. After I prioritize my to-do list, I use these prompts to move forward:

  • How much time is needed (realistically) to complete the task?

  • Add the task with the given time to my daily schedule to make sure that I have the dedicated time per task.

  • Focus on one task at a time (no multitasking) to maximize my attention and effort. The best work comes when the distractions are minimal.

3. Delegate

As a first-born, I have held onto my responsibilities in a very serious way. Because let’s be honest, nobody can do things the way I can do them. I take pride in my work, I am very detailed and thorough. It just never occurred to me that someone else could help ease my burden. At the same time, I have felt resentful that I am doing all of the work. While in college, being assigned to a group was a nightmare for me. I loved being in charge and I took on way too much because I couldn’t leave my grade in the hands of a stranger. Then I would be stressed out because I had so much to do. Change the scenario to marriage & family. I relish the systems I have in place and border insanity if someone in my family veers off from the way I do things. I want my kids to put the clean sheets on their beds; yet, when the bed covers aren’t as taught as I like them, I have to fight the urge to re-make the bed! Friends, if you are nodding your head right now in understanding, here is some sage advice. STOP IT. Seriously, save yourself from unnecessary anguish. There are people who love you and want to see you succeed; they want to help you in any way they can. Let them help and feel the burden of your tasks lighten.

  • Ask for help (and let out a sigh of relief)

  • Work in your strengths- these are things you should hang on to! This is your voice and your addition to your work

  • Pass things on which don’t require you personally to be accomplished-these are things that aren’t necessarily your strengths and can be better handled by someone else.

4. Manage your health

This is the part that most business people push to the back burner, especially if you are pretty healthy to begin with. When we get busy and put our heads down in our work, the last thing we think about is how much exercise we can get in and how many whole food meals we can consume. Yet, this is the part of our life that we should take the MOST serious. I have seen way too many executives that are on the verge of burnout because health has just not been the priority. Success is on the rise, so we continue to push harder towards greater success. Or maybe the numbers are not in alignment with the goals, so we drive ourselves to do more. We start work earlier and stop later. We start losing sleep, become dependent on caffeine and sugar to keep ourselves awake, eat food on the go and at our desk or in our cars. It doesn’t take long to feel the energy drain and the chronic fatigue to kick into high gear. What you may not be considering when you tell your health to please hold, is that your health is what drives success. If you feel terrible, you can’t possibly do quality work. You don't think clearly, you don’t have the extra drive to give when it matters, you miss details, you aren’t prepared or organized. You allow the competitor to have an edge because you are not at your best. To prevent the burnout, health must take priority. The good news is that wellness doesn’t have to be complicated:

  • Plan exercise at least three times a week (do anything you enjoy)

  • Plan your meals ahead of time-minimize sugar and processed foods

  • Sleep at least 8 hours a night

  • Schedule your wellness exams each year

  • Write in a gratitude journal each day, highlight things from your day that you are thankful for or which brought you joy.

5. Rest and Restore

Rest is necessary to recover and revitalize. Planning rest time is just as important as planning your time to prospect. Make time in your calendar each week to do absolutely nothing that resembles “work”.  How each of us experiences rest will differ so try out new things and see how you feel. Some people love tackling home projects while others like to be outdoors to experience nature. Try these on for size to recover during your week:

  • Read a book

  • Work on your hobby

  • Take a walk, a nap or a bath

  • Have lunch with a mentor

  • Take a day trip or plan a long weekend

Grasping these five points will give you stronger business acumen and push burnout to the outer edges. Let’s take charge of our success by managing our stress and letting go of the standards that society says we must have in order to gain success.

If you want to take your business to the next level, then you need to join the waitlist for my program Revitalized Wellness. I give you the roadmap to avoid burnout, increase energy, feel revitalized and increase your productivity. Join the waitlist here



 

How Exercise Caused My Burnout

How Exercise Caused My Burnout

Exercise is a good thing, right? It's supposed to make you healthier, no? Doesn't it build muscle and strong bones? It improves cardiovascular health, right? The obvious answer to those questions is a resounding YES! But...

There is a "But" in there? Yep. 

Stress Management: Goal Setting

Stress Management: Goal Setting

Did your 2018 start out like so many other years? Full of promise and a fresh start? Did you make a list of all the things you will conquer this year? Are you like 80% of the population that has abandoned the resolutions already? 

A lack of a plan leads to leaving the goals in the dust by the end of January and thinking, "I'll get it next year!". 

If you are struggling to stay on track with the goals you set at the start of 2018, this is the episode for you. Fine-tuning your goals to be specific, targeted and time-sensitive is an essential start to the goal-setting process. In order to manage your stress, goal-setting and planning are imperative.

Goal setting can be overwhelming, especially if you are focused on many new goals. When you are overwhelmed, it's hard to stay focused, especially if there is not a plan behind each goal. 

Today we break down 3 strategies to manage your goals so that you feel equipped and confident with a plan to accomplish them.  Starting with a few goals in the areas of life that are your biggest priority is a great place to start.

 

The overwhelm is no-more with these goal setting strategies. Tell me what goals you have and if you have a plan to accomplish them!

5 Things To Look For In A Health Coach

5 Things To Look For In A Health Coach

’Tis the season for resolutions and goals; a certain focus tends to fall on the health that we may have let slip by in the past 12 months. We write out lists of well-meaning promises to ourselves that we will fulfill this year. THIS YEAR it will be different...

Stress Management: Hormone Imbalance

Stress Management: Hormone Imbalance

As I coach women that need help to manage the stress in their lives, we often discuss some of the "clues" or symptoms that drove them to work with me. Number 1 reason: weight gain. As we dig in, I have been able, with help from friends like Candace Burch, to uncover a hormone imbalance. Stress can play a HUGE piece of hormone imbalance that leads to so many symptoms like fatigue, weight gain, irritability, mental fog, melancholy, and a TON of other not so special things. I decided to interview my friend and trusted hormone advisor, Candace Burch from Your Hormone Balance. This interview is LOADED with helpful information and I promise you that you will want to get your hormones checked right away. Spoiler: Candace gives a GENEROUS code to my friends, because my people are the best!! 

I dare you to NOT love Candace! You just can't!! No way! She is a wealth of information and so very awesome-she truly understands what each of us struggles with! 

If weight gain IS a struggle, hormones could be the bozo to blame! There could also be a few other tricks that you are playing on your body making weight loss difficult. Download my guide, "5 Critical Mistakes Preventing You From Weight Loss" to find out what could be keeping weight loss at bay. 

 

Stress Management: Women-Balance, Self-Esteem, & Body Image

Stress Management: Women-Balance, Self-Esteem, & Body Image

I interviewed Dr. Ariane Machin, co-founder of Conscious Coaching Collective, to discuss modern issues that we, as women, deal with. There are impossible societal standards that are placed upon us requiring unachievable perfection. It negatively impacts our body image, self-esteem, relationships, and overall self-worth. This discussion is rich in grace, humor, and balanced perspective that gives women permission to say no and embrace your space. 

I hope you love this interview as much as I do! Isn't Dr. Machin the greatest?!?! I could talk to her allllll day. If this spoke to you the way I think it will, then make sure you head over here to get on the waitlist for INTENTIONAL WELLNESS! It is a whole wellness program that flips "diets" on their heads! It's time to look at stress management, gain energy, and feel healthy & whole again. JOIN THE WAITLIST!

Until next time, sisters!

Whole Health. Whole Love. Whole Success. 

Stress Self-Care for Working Moms

 Do you remember the commercials in the 80's of the frazzled mom who would exclaim "Calgon, take me away!!"? The next scene would show her up neck deep in a frothy bubble bath and suddenly all was right in her world.   When stressors present themselves in your busy life of running a business, raising a family, maintaining relationships, volunteering, and the list goes on and on...you may feel like you are going to lose your mind. How can you fit one more thing on your to-do list? That is when self-care is so critical. Taking a step backward to change your point of view. Evaluate the bigger picture. Taking a deep breath and asking God for guidance. Giving yourself the gift of self-care.   Yet, sometimes the stressors come in the form of environmental toxins and chemicals you knowingly put in your body and not from your schedule or obligations alone. Those toxins instigate a stress response because it is foreign in your body and causes inflammation. Eliminating those from your environment and, more importantly, your body will begin with self-care.  I invited my friend, Kristin Szerszen, to share her top tips for natural self-care that rejuvenate, reduce your inflammation, and minimize your stress. She is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to essential oils and the benefits for your health. I am so excited to share my blog with her!    

Do you remember the commercials in the 80's of the frazzled mom who would exclaim "Calgon, take me away!!"? The next scene would show her up neck deep in a frothy bubble bath and suddenly all was right in her world. 

When stressors present themselves in your busy life of running a business, raising a family, maintaining relationships, volunteering, and the list goes on and on...you may feel like you are going to lose your mind. How can you fit one more thing on your to-do list? That is when self-care is so critical. Taking a step backward to change your point of view. Evaluate the bigger picture. Taking a deep breath and asking God for guidance. Giving yourself the gift of self-care. 

Yet, sometimes the stressors come in the form of environmental toxins and chemicals you knowingly put in your body and not from your schedule or obligations alone. Those toxins instigate a stress response because it is foreign in your body and causes inflammation. Eliminating those from your environment and, more importantly, your body will begin with self-care.

I invited my friend, Kristin Szerszen, to share her top tips for natural self-care that rejuvenate, reduce your inflammation, and minimize your stress. She is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to essential oils and the benefits for your health. I am so excited to share my blog with her!    

Did you know... the average person applies 300 chemicals to their body every single day, and 80 of those chemicals before breakfast?!?

Most of these chemicals are from four things --- soap, makeup, shampoo, and hair care. The biggest pollutants in our home are fabric softener, dryer sheets, air freshener plug-ins, and candles.

Health & safety data only exists for 15 percent of all the chemicals out there, even though so many are known to cause asthma or endocrine disruptions! I highly suggest you open your cupboards and start researching the products that you are using and the ingredients that they are formulated with. I found the phone app called 'Think Dirty' to be very beneficial and helpful in my research. 

Essential oils are a safe and natural option to use in our homes and as a part of our care routine. There are some very easy and affordable ways to incorporate these products into your life. I am going to share some solutions that you can easily implement into your beauty and self-care regimen!

Aromatherapy:

It's amazing that scents can have such a powerful impact on our bodies! Therapeutic essential oils are extracted from plants. These oils help plants thrive and maintain wellness so by using them we are able to gain the benefits that plants do from having the oils inside.

Essential oils can help you stay above the wellness line as opposed to always be treating symptoms and putting a band aid on things. They support body systems the way that they are meant to optimally function.   

Using essential oils aromatically is an easy and effective way to get the therapeutic benefit of the oil that you are using. You can simply open your bottle of oil and smell it, wear diffuser jewelry that holds the oil, and use a diffuser to disperse the oil in the air in your home.

I use the diffusers in our home throughout the day. In the morning, I will use oils for alertness, focus, and to help wake our minds and bodies up for the day; my typical go-to selection is a citrus oil like Lemon or Orange. Throughout the day I will use different oils based on what may be going on for us; as a mom of a two-year-old, I find myself diffusing the oil blend called Stress Away most of the time! At night, I use calming and grounding oils like Lavender and Frankincense to help us unwind from the day. You can also use your diffuser during your detox Epsom salt bath, I often do!

Epsom Salt Bath with Essential Oils:

Who doesn't love a great bath? I have found that incorporating a relaxing detox bath with Epsom salt into my routine helps me destress and unwind. This is my favorite and most used thing in my self-care routine so I will go into good detail on this.  ;)  Oil and water do not mix so mixing the essential oil with Epsom salt is a great way to add two amazing products to your bath!

Find an Epsom salt that only contains magnesium sulfate (MgSO4) without any fillers or additional ingredients. Epsom salt has 7 amazing benefits: boosts magnesium levels, reduces stress, eliminates toxins, relieves constipation, reduces pain & inflammation, improves blood sugar levels, and volumizes hair.

Take about 1 cup of salts and mix with your preference of essential oils. I typically use about 5-8 drops per cup of salts. By using essential oils with the salts, you will also benefit from the therapeutic properties of the oils. Lavender and Frankincense oils are my favorites to use for when I want to relax. For those days that I have a tough workout or have worked hard in our yard, I use Peppermint to relieve sore muscles. You can even use Eucalyptus oil to help if your breathing needs some support! The oily combinations are endless so you can truly customize your bath experience however you want!

Once your oil is mixed with the Epsom salt, pour into your bath under the running water and mix it into your bath water. I keep two glass jars of ready to use Epsom salt beside my tub with my favorite two oily combinations; this way I don't have to mix it for every bath. 

It is so much fun to be able to create your own spa experience at home! Enjoy!  

Skin Care & Personal Care Solutions:

26 seconds is all it takes for the ingredients in your personal care products to enter your bloodstream! Once I learned this statistic, it became more important than ever for me to make sure that the products we are using are safe for our bodies.

I switched a lot of products that we use to simple DIY options or researched safer options to purchase. Please visit my blog at www.KristinSzerszen.com for recipes to make things like facial masks, hand soap, makeup remover, rash balm, anti-aging facial serum, bar soap, sugar scrub, and a recipe that I am working hard at perfecting... body butter that is smooth yet not greasy! If I started listing all of my recipes and specific solutions in this post... it would be never ending, so I'll be respectful of your time and point you to my blog where I am posting all of my recipes. 

If you are not a DIY type person, don't fret! There are solutions available for purchase that will meet your needs.  I always suggest to research ingredients!  I am happy to make suggestions on our favorites so please don't hesitate to reach out!  

Essential oils are a very versatile and safe solution to use for personal care and beauty care. There truly is an oil for everything! The therapeutic properties of oils can be used to help make product swaps in the effort to achieve a toxin free lifestyle. I would be so happy and honored to help guide you and offer any suggestions in using essential oils. Please email me at Kristin@KristinSzerszen.com with any questions. 

Thank you to Ericka for sharing her blog and having me as a guest!  

 


As a gift to my readers, Kristin is giving away this awesome diffuser necklace to one of my lucky readers! Simply leave a comment below to be entered and I will pick a winner on 7/15/17. She is also offering a 10% discount at her website on any purchase with the code: ErickaEller. Yay!!! 

Surviving Stress

Surviving Stress

You’re exhausted. Burnt out. Done. You’re trying to do everything. All the things. All the time. But you’ve hit a wall. You wish for moments of complete silence. Time alone, doing nothing. How do you manage the stress?...

You Might Be A Woman With Stress If...

This “stress” topic isn’t new if you are a human. Who might be a woman. And probably has a career. And a family. And you need to bring treats for the classroom party. And you’re trying to make healthy meals for your family but the kids have soccer practice 4 days of the week during dinner time. And you have to schedule your dentist appointment that you are 8 months late for. pic isn’t new if you are a human. Who might be a woman. And probably has a career. And a family. And you need to bring treats for the classroom party. And you’re trying to make healthy meals for your family but the kids have soccer practice 4 days of the week during dinner time. And you have to schedule your dentist appointment that you are 8 months late for.

Happy International Women's Day!

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It’s about time. The world gave ME a day….today is International Women’s Day!! I have one day to bask in all of womanhood and delight in the estrogen flowing through my body. Break out the piñata! Fiesta! Such joy! 

However, the ironic humor is that this very celebrated (everybody celebrates, right??), festive, pinnacle of all peaks, day that the world has given ME…..is the day that nature gives me the swift kick in the pants and I get my period. Of course. Happy International Women’s Day to ME. To begin the celebration, here is the fiercest of cycles! Of course. I feel like my body turned on me. 

Nonetheless, I do celebrate being a woman. I celebrate all of my femininity each day.  I don’t need a day to celebrate or acknowledge that I have a uterus. I celebrate all the good and bad of being a woman. The best part for me was that God made me a woman because He knew I could do hard things. Each day I am given breath, I am thankful for the women who have gone before me and done hard things. I am thankful that I have gifts and talents and I can share those with others. I am grateful that I have a chance to impact my children in a positive way, especially our daughters. I am grateful for women who will come alongside and help mentor me to become a better wife, mother, leader, and friend.   

I celebrate the hormone shifts because it reminds me that even on my fiercest of days, when it seems as though I have no heart, I can still cry at someone being compassionate to another human. I celebrate my changing body, because I grew three babies inside and they are miracles! Who cares if it’s softer and I have stretch marks?!! Without this body, those amazing people wouldn’t be here….there are days I wish I could shove them back inside to give me some quiet, but they are still amazing and I love them with all my heart. I celebrate all that I have accomplished. Life is tough and we have each been knocked down. There were times that I thought there was no way I could get back up. But God. He has a way of leading us down the dimly lit path. I celebrate having courage. I celebrate having faith. I celebrate being bold. I celebrate being quiet. I celebrate being thoughtful. I celebrate being scared. 

 

We are busy. We are tired. We are overwhelmed. We are over-scheduled. We sleep too little. We worry too much. Sometimes, it’s just one day at time. And that’s ok. We are loved. We are precious. Take a deep breath. There is always something to be thankful for. 

Each day, I choose to celebrate and love myself so that I can also love others better. It’s a choice. I haven’t perfected it. Some days are easier than others. Each of us, as women, have gifts that we must share with the world. Don’t keep it to yourself. You are a gift. Celebrate it. Make a cake...You are THAT special!

Today, try these three things to celebrate yourself:

  1. Be thankful. Take time to write down 3 things you are thankful for right now. Anything. Gratitude breeds joy.
  2. Do something kind for someone else. Nobody ever feels bad after doing a good deed for someone else.
  3. Love yourself. Speak kind words to yourself.  Take some time for you. Take a nap. Whatever you need today. 

Don't just celebrate being a woman today. Celebrate every single day. Celebrate you. Don't forget the cake. 

 

 

 

 

 

Room To Grow

This past weekend I decided to tackle the most giant of tasks. The Goliath of tasks. I didn’t want to. I thought it wasn’t bad enough. I’ve procrastinated for months already. Life was still continuing to move forward without this task being finished. I was getting by. 

What was the task that made me feel a little nauseous every time I thought about it? Purging and organizing my closet. I can hear the collective groan from all of you too. I dreaded this task. But I couldn’t stand it anymore. 

Many of you may know that I became the happiest of brides last September. God heard my most fervent of prayers and blessed me with an amazing husband. Jeff moved into the house and it was a challenge to find room for his things. I didn’t realize the amount of shifting, moving, donating, and selling that we would each have to do! I thought he was coming with his toothbrush and a bag full of underwear and socks and we would live happily ever after. I figured I would give him my side of the bed (because it turned out we both slept on the left side of the bed on our own and I can compromise) and it would all be good. Then I see a moving truck pulling up. And it was FULL. 

Fast forward to the master bedroom closet. We needed to make room for his clothes! I let go of 5 tops and what felt like 1,000 pairs of shoes and it didn’t even look like I made a dent, but we carried on with the tight closet. I knew I needed to get rid of so much more but I just couldn’t. I’d sacrificed so much already! I NEEDED all of that stuff! I put it off and procrastinated. Then finally I decided it was time to rip off the band-aid. 

I had been inspired last week when I listened to this podcast on closet organization by Chalene Johnson. She inspired me to make the move I was dreading, my conviction and need flipped the internal switch and I began the dirty work. Within two days of listening to Chalene, I went through every single piece of clothing and purged what was no longer in style or fit. I was ruthless. It was liberating. 

Cleaning the closet made me think…how many times have there been things in our life that we are afraid to change? How often have we known that in order to grow, we need to move past something holding us back? How often have we let fear of the unknown prevent us from experiencing a “clean closet”? How many times have we told God, “not now”?

You see, there can’t be growth when things remain unchanged. In the same way, I couldn’t appreciate so many pieces of great clothing because they were being hidden by items that I would maybe one day wear again. Never mind that it has been over a year or more since I’d worn it, one perfect day, when all was right in the world, I would be glad I hung on the cardigan with layer upon layer of ruffles or that skirt or blouse! Those extra, unnecessary, items were preventing me from having an organized, open space. I was being greedy and selfish by holding on to items of material worth. I wasn’t willing to let go and allow someone else to be blessed by what I no longer used. I wasn’t allowing myself to dwell in the place of contentment of what I have. Cleaning my closet allowed me to see my blessings and find contentment. 

Similarly, we prevent our own personal growth because we allow the clutter in our lives to hold us hostage. We don’t allow God to use the old to bring forth the new. We don’t allow the growth. We seek “perfection”and acceptance through new things. 

We allow the fear to creep in, we stay safe. 

We don’t share that idea at work because nobody will care, or worse, they will think it’s dumb. 

We don’t reach out to that person because they probably aren’t interested or are too busy to have another friendship. 

We don’t participate in groups or activities because we probably wouldn’t fit in. 

We don’t change our diet and lifestyle because it’s too hard and we won’t be successful again. 

We don’t jump forward with the business plan because we would probably fail. 

We don’t leave toxic relationships because what if we end up alone?

We don’t join in conversations because what we have to say is probably not valuable. 

We don’t submit our resume because we probably won’t get the job. 

We don’t give up the addiction because it brings us comfort. 

Think about this. What if we did? What if we said yes to what God has placed in our hearts? What if we stepped out in faith and allowed God to work through us? What if instead of fighting the pruning that will come anyway, we submitted? 

I have had some hard lessons in life. I have regrets. I’ve hung on so tightly to things, and sometimes I still do. I’ve looked for people and things to fill my needs. Slowly, I am learning that when God says it is time to move forward, it’s at that time I need to obey. Letting God do what He needs to do while I have a willing heart is so much easier than acting like the toddler who you’re practically sitting on to get the medicine in their mouth because they NEED the medicine to get better.  If I just took the medicine or washed my hands so that I wouldn’t get sick in the first place, it’s much easier to handle. The medicine can still be bitter but it allows us to grow, regenerate, and stay healthy. 

I know, such a life lesson from a closet about to explode, right?  But God uses everything. And there lies the blessing. 

 

 

 

Letter To My Daughter

Dear Sweet Girl, 

 

My heart aches for you and the world that surrounds you. 

 

I see a young girl, barely a teenager, that has already been told by society that she isn’t good enough. How in the world can that possibly be? How can a community of people, who should be shepherding a child’s heart, say to my extraordinary girl, “keep tryin’, kid. Maybe one day you’ll get there”? I remember holding you, my just-born baby girl, for the first time and thinking that you were absolutely beautiful and perfect. So capable of achieving great things. So able to bring joy and laughter to all and I just knew the world would see the same thing. I thought I could protect you from the cruelty of the world. Your story of self-worth would be much different than mine. I prayed that God would guide me with wisdom and love as your mom, begging for it to be enough to make you feel loved. "Make it enough, Lord, that she never doubts that she is loved and valued.” Yet, that isn’t how it goes today, in this world that aches for grace. And that makes my heart break in pieces for you. 

 

Just yesterday, you were marching into Kindergarten with your Disney Princess backpack and matching lunch box, right? Wasn’t it just yesterday that you held my hand as you walked through that brightly decorated classroom that held the promise of walls to be adorned with backwards letters, stick figure self-portraits, and art pieces comprised of glued on beans and pasta noodles? Now I see you as a high school freshman struggling to keep up with the Kardashians. Really? This is what we give young girls to look up to? Never would I have guessed that there would be a bigger fight than I originally anticipated to keep your self-worth in check. This is an all-out war against females today. 

 

You see, beautiful girl, the world can be such a wonderful place filled with genuine people who truly want the best for you and understand what love is really about. There are some selfless people that will cross your path and be a light in your life. Those people, with the help of God, will stretch your limits to find WHY you were created. They will be your cheerleaders, your listening ears, and shoulders to cry on. Sadly, it’s also filled with hurt people that hurt people and choose to believe that the key to a successful life is by looking out only for themselves and will do whatever it takes to get to the top, even if it means hurting you. 

 

We live in a world where beauty wins. What you look like, what you drive, the clothes you wear and the size on the tags of your pants will determine your worth. The smoother the skin, the glossier the hair and the slimmer your waist, is a sure-fire formula to accomplish much in our society. Is that really more important than whether you are kind, empathetic, giving, loving, compassionate? Looks outweigh character?

 

That can’t be right. I need you to know it is not right. Society is selling you a lie, sweet girl. This culture is trying to make you feel completely inadequate if you don’t look the same as the airbrushed, Photoshop-assisted models that grace the covers of magazines. With all that I am and lessons I have learned, you must understand that there is so much more to life. I want to spare you the struggles I have endured. I want you to be confident in who God created you to be. If you learn to cling to the truth in who you are much sooner than I did, you are sparing yourself from many emotional scars. WHO you are and not what you look like are the character traits that matter. 

 

I went through most of my life never feeling like I was good enough. I fought to believe that I could do something great with my life or that I would achieve success on my own. I wondered, what did I have that made me special? Why did I think I do something big or important in my life? 

 

I struggled to believe that I could be loved. Without my father in the picture, I was missing that positive male role-model to show me how a man should treat a woman. I thought my worth depended on whether a man loved me. I was yearning for that positive affirmation and believed it would come from a man. I didn’t hear “I love you” from my family until after you were born. I wanted to be the best in all I did, I longed to know that someone, anyone, was proud of me. Those boys that say they love you, don’t mean it. Having a boyfriend doesn’t equal self-worth. Those who want to be with you simply because you are beautiful, and have no interest in knowing your dreams, your fears, what makes you laugh, what breaks your heart, what you have faith in, or what is behind that bright smile, have no right to your heart. 

 

I struggled with my weight and self-image all my life. I went from being so thin that it wasn’t healthy to doing everything I possibly could to drop the extra 30 pounds I was carrying. I hated being skinny, I hated the extra weight I was carrying, I hated my skin, my nose, my brown eyes…What is a woman to think of herself if society tells her that she can’t fit into the box of perfection they have created for her?  How would you come to know that grace and unconditional love is outside of that box if you spend so much time and effort to fit IN the box? 

 

I chose to listen to the standards placed on me by society that would determine whether or not I was beautiful. I chose to believe the lies. It was all superficial, and it remains very much so today, there was no worth placed on the character of a woman. Instead of being judged by your kindness, or your work ethic and skill, you’re being judged by how well that selfie turned out. You’re judging yourself by these same standards. That breaks my heart. I want the world to see the same beautiful young lady I see, that has a compassionate heart and an amazing sense of humor. I want the world to see the joy that fills a room when you enter. Most of all, I want YOU to see those things when you look in the mirror. I want you to see what God sees in you. 

 

The struggle to feel valued is a generational cycle that I knew I had to break. The lack of confidence that I inherited needs to stop with me. I can’t pass this on to you. I can’t ask you to carry this burden. It’s a heavy burden that will affect your emotional health, physical health, and mental health. It affects your relationships. It creates wedges between people. It affects the work you do, or don’t do. The day I became a mom was the day I knew that I had to help you find your way through this world and lead you to God. You have incredible gifts and talents that God has given only to you and you need to share them with the world. We are not meant to carry this load of insecurity, doubt, and shame. God’s grace is sufficient for us and He made each of us women in His image. 

 

Learning to stand out from the crowd and not buy the lie that you must comply with the standards placed on yourself is a learned skill and comes with time. I pray that you can overcome the expectations and help to set an example for your generation to embrace the uniqueness we have each being given. How boring of a world would this be if we were all the same? Allow yourself grace. Dance in your imperfections. Rest in Jesus’ perfect love. Don’t buy the lie, peanut...you are enough. 

 

You, sweet girl, are wonderful and worthy of love. From others…but most of all, yourself. Take the time to love yourself and embrace how you were created and go forward to spread your joy and kindness. Treat your body with respect-eat well, exercise, get rest, and be kind to it. You need it for the rest of your life. It is perfect and strong and created to do amazing things. Be comfortable in your own skin. Laugh at yourself and be proud of who you are and know, above all else, you are always loved exactly as you are.  

 

Love you always, 

Mom

Reflecting on 2016 - What went wrong?


Once again I am looking at the last few days of my calendar. 2016 was fleeting. I remember so vividly getting out my brand new, beautiful planner and writing my goals and aspirations for the year. There is such promise of a new, empty calendar….the blank squares on the calendar just anticipating all of the success and accomplished tasks and goals. 

Most women that I know share the same feelings of surprise and perplexity when we stare at those last few days in our December schedule and ask ourselves, “What just happened?”. 

So this year, I decided to take stock of what I did, in fact, accomplish! This was a great exercise that made me reflect (and be thankful) on the power of writing down goals, achievements, and falling forward. 2016 was an amazing year for me! So many blessings-the greatest being that I got married to my best friend! However, the truth is that I didn’t hit each goal. The reality of why I didn’t was simply because I didn’t plan for success. I didn’t have deadlines or a plan to achieve the success I desired. I simply wrote a desire that I had for the year and nothing more.

Acknowledging that mistake, allows me to learn and grow in 2017. 

There is a famous quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “A goal without a plan is just a wish”.

I don’t like the term “resolution” when thinking of the fresh start of the new year and creating a goal, especially when there is no plan behind the resolution. Creating a resolution to lose weight is vague. How will you accomplish that? What steps need to happen each day, each week, every month, for an entire year to achieve that? If you lost one pound is that defined as success for you? Get specific. 

The actual exercise of writing down a goal and creating a plan to accomplish it is empowering. YOU create the path for your own success. 

The items that I wrote down as goals for myself and actually created a plan to accomplish my desires were the items I found success with! For example, creating my very own branded wellness program was a dream that I set into motion for 2016 when I created a plan. How was I going to get this achieved? What steps needed to be taken? 

Listing items such as: hire a business coach, build my social media following, create my ideal program that will deliver results, design a website, create a sales funnel, build content-all with deadlines, was imperative. Because of this planning, I am super happy to say that I am accomplishing that goal! As I type this, my website is almost set to launch. This has been a labor of love and there is no way I could have accomplished without setting specific goals and deadlines to achieve. 

Without admitting that I couldn’t accomplish it all on my own, knowing that I needed expert help to achieve my vision, I am certain that I would not be able to share my success in this dream realized. 

What goals did you achieve in 2016? 
Where did you fall short? 
What are you grateful for?

How will you create a new story in 2017? 

What are two things (make it realistic!) that you want to change or create this new year?
What do you need help with? Getting healthy? Creating your dream job? Financial freedom? 

What steps do you need to take to achieve your goals?

I challenge you to make 2017 an EPIC year because YOU created a plan to do so!