I wish creating could be a linear A to Z process. If you are like me this is potentially more what the process looks like:
I laughed as I made this image because it is so true to how the creative process goes. It often feels like you go back three steps to move forward one. This process drives me crazy and can be so incredibly frustrating. There are moments when I feel like I’ve wasted so much time just trying to figure out the process for creating something.
But the reality is that even though it can be challenging, I love the process. I love the puzzle and mystery that comes with getting creative. Often when I’ve felt like I’ve “wasted” time trying to figure out a creative process, it’s really time invested in learning the material and the idea more in-depth. I also have to remind myself that there is not a wrong way to get creative. Sometimes projects turn out different then you expect but it doesn’t make it wrong but instead something new and different.
Get creative and enjoy the adventure in the process! 💛
I love using and making melt and pour soap!! It is cheaper then buying bar soap and you can add in your favorite oils! I buy my soap from Hobby Lobby when they go on sale. I typically use Lavender and Lemon essential oils. I tend to get eczema and the Lavender helps ease any irritation on my skin. I also like to use lemon or sweet orange because of their natural cleansing properties!
Melt & Pour Soap, I like using Shea Butter
Microwaveable glass bowl
Essential Oil of Your Choice
Soap Mold, I use food-grade silicone molds
I normally will make 1 pound of melt and pour soap at a time, which will typically make enough for a whole six to eight cavities in a silicone mold.
Cut the block of melt and pour soap into smaller pieces to fit into the microwaveable glass bowl.
Microwave the soap in 30 second intervals.
In between the intervals take the glass bowl out and stir the soap.
Once the soap is completely melted add in your essential oils. I normally add 50 drops of essential oils for 1 pound of soap. Depending on your skin sensitivity you could consider added less or more than 50 drops.
Stir the essential oils and soap together.
Pour soap into the silicone mold.
Once the soap has hardened and cooled you can carefully pop the soap out of each cavity.
Communicating can be so hard! Have you ever felt like what you were trying to say came out too harshly? Have you ever chosen not to say anything because you were not sure how to express your needs?
Communication can be tough for so many reasons. We have often witnessed destructive communication during our childhoods, within our relationships, and in our workplaces. Maybe you have even felt belittled by someone else’s poor, passive aggressive, or aggressive communication. Communication with others and ourselves directly impacts how we get through life and the quality of our relationships.
The great news is that we have control of what we say, how we respond, and the actions we take. We do not have to be stuck in unproductive or destructive communication styles. We can choose to communicate in ways that expresses what we need, is respectful, and is productive. I know I write that statement as if it is easy. It does take intentional work to change and to recognize our own patterns. First, we will discuss the different kinds of communication on the communication spectrum.
There are four commonly used categories of communication including passive, assertive, passive-aggressive, and aggressive.
Passive: This type of communication is characterized by not speaking up, not sharing, and not stating your opinion or needs in order to please someone else. Since the needs of this person are not being expressed, they may be at risk for being taken advantage of, having pent up hurt feelings, not having clear boundaries, and having unmet needs.
Passive-Aggressive: This type of communication is also characterized by not directly sharing needs, but the person will then penalize others for not knowing their needs or wants. Similar to the passive communication this can lead to resentments but is also like the aggressive communication in that the person works to manipulate others to eventually get what they want.
Aggressive: This type of communication is totally self-centered and is used to dominate, take advantage of, bully, and intimidate others. This type of communication does not leave room for others to share their needs, wants, or rights.
Assertive: This type of communication is characterized by respectful communication of needs, wants, and boundaries. There is no manipulation or discrediting someone else’s needs and there is a safe space for the individual to share their own needs. This is the most ideal form of communication.
Benefits of Assertive Communication
There are many benefits to using assertive communication. When both people are using this form of communication it creates a space for both people to be able to speak with respect and to be able to share what they need and want. The other forms of communications cause barriers in communication and in relationships. If you are communicating with an abusive person, they may not be receptive to your assertive communication. It is important to evaluate if it is a safe person and place to speak assertively about your needs and boundaries.
Using ‘I’ Statements
A great way to practice assertive communication is by using ‘I’ statements. This is a great tool because it helps us to take responsibility for our feelings, words, and thoughts, while sharing what we want and need. Using ‘I’ statements first starts with you sharing how you feel when something occurs and then sharing what you wish would happen instead. Here are some examples:
I feel hurt when you talk about me and I would like it if you would talk about issues with me first.
I feel upset and unsafe when you slam the door during a disagreement, please do not do that.
I enjoy going bowling with you, can we do that sometime this month.
These are just examples of some ways you can use ‘I’ statements. Take some time to think about conversations where you could have used these kinds of statements or practice using this tool with a friend. I will say it can be hard to use ‘I’ statements when someone is accusing you or arguing with you, but it is so worth it to be able to express how you are feeling and what you need in that moment.
Stuck in a situation, relationship, or moment, that left you feeling shut down or like there was nothing you could do?
In these situations when we are experiencing the freeze survival response, our body is seeking to restore safety by getting through whatever distressing event is happening by being still. This happens when our body detects that it is not possible to achieve safety through fighting or fleeing. In these situations, the survival response is to disappear and simply get through what is happening (Seltzer, 2015). The freeze response is also associated with feelings of numbness, disconnection, exhaustion, inability to physically respond or move.
The freeze response is different than fight or flight in that the stressful energy from the event is not resolved and stays within our body. One of the videos below talks about how this can impact someone when they are reminded of the past event, in which they coped with the freeze response. Mental illnesses such as phobias, anxiety disorders, and panic attacks may be symptoms of an unresolved experience with the freeze response (Seltzer, 2015).
Here are two videos that I thought were very interesting about the freeze response:
Tools for Coping with the Freeze Response
These are tools of resilience that can help with coping with being outside of our resilient zone. If you are feeling distressed or in crisis, consider talking with a mental health professional.
Tune into the sensations in your body. Track the sensations you are feeling.
Practice grounding. This is the practice of focus on a surface supporting you. Below is a recording of a grounding exercise.
We experience stress in a variety of ways. Life has so many twists, turns, transitions, and surprises it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed. There are big life events that are stressful, but there are also moments, demands, duties, obligations, and more throughout our days that may trigger us to feel overwhelmed or stressed. I previously made a pamphlet about coping with stress that is available to be downloaded below. There are four kinds of stress:
Acute Stress: fight or flight response when the body is preparing to defend itself. In this type of stress the body may experience increased heart rate, tense muscles, and breathing faster (National Institute of Mental Health; American Institute of Stress).
Chronic Stress: ongoing acute stress without the body being able to find relief (AIS).
Eustress/Routine Stress: Stress from daily life with positive connotation, such as work, relationships, marriage, school, hobbies, etc. (AIS).
Stress impacts us physically, mentally, and emotionally. It is important for us to have a balance of stress and the release of stress in order for us to thrive and be functioning at our best. How do we go about doing that though? How do you cope with stress? Some of the ideas below are possibly things you are already doing or might inspire you to try a new technique to cope with or manage stress in your life.
Coping with Stress
There are healthy and destructive ways that we choose to cope with stress. There are two main ways that we can build resilience, which allows us to cope with stress effectively. The first way is through our sensations and the second is through capturing our thoughts and emotions. Both of these strategies are essential to building resilience and being our best selves.
Our body’s natural way of experiencing anything is first through sensations. When we experience stress and relaxation we experience that through sensations in our body. For example when I am stressed I often feel a tightness in my chest, a clinching in my stomach, or tension in my shoulders. When I am feeling relaxed or calm I feel my tension loosen, tingling throughout my body, or deeper breathing. Here are some activities you can practice to possibly increase calming sensations:
Tracking Your Body: It can be uncomfortable or odd to tune into our bodies to see what sensations we are experiencing when we are feeling stress or calm. Take some time to notice the sensations you are feeling in our body, but if it is something that is triggering to you for any reason shift your attention to one of the other activities.
Grounding: put your attention to a surface supporting you. This could be the ground underneath your feet, the chair against your back, or any solid surface. Put all of your attention on that surface and when your thoughts drift just refocus.
Resourcing: focus your attention on a positive experience. This could be a favorite hobby, place, or moment. Focus on what sensations you experience when doing that activity. For example, one of my resources that I think about is bookbinding. I put my attention to what it feels like to have the waxed thread in between my fingers, what it feels like to fold the paper, or glue the covers. Just focus in and allow your mind and body to relax into the resource you are focusing on.
Capturing our thoughts or using our thinking brain to experience calmness and build resilience can include a variety of activities. The essence of this is resetting, processing, reframing, or shifting our thoughts so that we do not spiral or become overtaken by our stress. Here is a list of ways to possibly do this:
Exercise, Walking, Yoga
Listening to Music
Comment below if there is a strategy in this post you are going to try or how you cope with stress in life!
I have found that paying attention to my thoughts is very important to my wellbeing! When I let my thoughts go unchecked I start to be in negative thought patterns, vicious cycles of disappointment thinking of all the things that I “should” do and assuming what others are thinking. None of these patterns are helpful and it takes being intentional to notice these thoughts in yourself to create change. Paying attention to our thoughts is essential to our mental and emotional health.
Common Thought Distortions
One of the books about resilience that I have enjoyed is by Dr. Glenn R. Schiraldi, called The Resilience Workbook. This book has a lot of helpful information and exercises for building resilience and overcoming past stress and trauma. Below is a list from Dr. Schiraldi of common thought distortions:
Flaw Fixation: getting stuck on all the things that we consider to be wrong, undesirable, or negative.
Dismissing the Positive: choosing to not notice, accept, or believe the positive in a situation or about yourself.
Assuming: this could look like thinking that you know what someone else is thinking without them expressing themselves or predicting what you think will happen as fact.
Labeling: when we reduce ourselves, others, or a situation down to one characteristic.
Overgeneralizing: thinking that a certain type of situation always or never happens.
All-or-None Thinking: I find when I am engaging in this kind of thinking I am wanting to either have everything exactly as I want it and am all in or I totally walk away and don’t invest any of myself. In this thought process solutions in the middle are not considered.
Comparison: Comparing someone’s situation to your own, but often it is comparing someone else’s best to your worst.
Catastrophizing: thinking the worst is going to happen.
Emotional Logic: making decisions based solely on emotion and not considering the facts of the situation.
Should Statements: when you have rules or beliefs of what life has to be like.
Personalizing: believing something is about you personally, without considering other possibilities or circumstances.
Blaming: not taking responsibility for our own thoughts, words, and actions.
Looking at a list like this can be overwhelming because chances are we might be struggling with several of these thought processes. Next, we will look how to focus in on one of these thought processes and start the process of making change!
Changing Thought Cycles
Sometimes it can feel very difficult to change our thought processes especially when we have been thinking a certain way for a long time. When I was first trying to change my thought processes I first reflected on which one caused the most difficulties in my life. Or consider which one is holding you back the most from goals you are working on. Making changes is not only about what we won’t do, but figuring out what we will do instead. For example one of my struggles is assuming what other people are thinking. So when I catch myself doing this I remind myself that I am not a mind reader or that I can only control my thoughts, words and actions. Once I’ve reminded myself of this I take a step back and look at the facts. What did the person actually say? What circumstances were happening that led me to assume their thoughts? And what do I actually know about the situation based on these things? Here are these steps laid out below:
What thought distortion do you want to work on?
How can you replace this thought process with a new health thought process?
Are there circumstances that trigger this thought distortion?
The awesome thing about our brain is that the more we practice a skill and put our attention to it, the more our brain adapts to support the new thought process or habit. It might take time, but you have the power to change your brain and to change your thoughts! Take time to reflect on this! Leave a comment below of what action step you are going to take!
Schiraldi, G. (2017). The Resilience Workbook. New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
Two candle bowls (One small then the other), one candle cylinder and plate for hat
Black spray paint for hat
Decorations for scarf and hat, I used felt and winter floral stems
I have been seeing these glass snowmen on Facebook and Pinterest and wanted to give it a try. I decided to use candle bowls because it was really cheap at Hobby Lobby because they were all 50% off.
I spray painted the cylinder black for the top hat.
I put a thin line of E6000 glue on the rim of the cylinder and put it in the center of the bottom of the plate.
Then I put stuffing, glitter, and sequins in the bowls for decoration. The smaller bowl I glued on top of the slightly bigger bowl. I put a thin line of E6000 glue on the rim of the bottom bowl and placed the smaller bowl on top. Let sit for approximately 10 minutes.
Put a thin line of E6000 glue on the rim of the top bowl and place the glass top hat on it. Let the glue dry.
For decoration I made a scarf with felt and hot glued some winter floral stems on the top hat!
Hope you give this a try! Comment below with pictures of your glass creation!
If you are like me, then you might struggle with saving money. Saving money takes so much intentionality and discipline and it is far too easy to spend on things that are not in the budget and to splurge on things that are wants instead of needs. We are often bombarded by all kinds of activities and duties from work, school, church, or personal care and sometimes taking time to figure out our financial goals is hard. Taking time to consider how much we are wanting to save, why we are wanting to save, and where we are wanting to store our money is difficult and can take a lot of energy. But I think it can be easier than we think.
Again, if you are like me, you may get stuck at the stage of planning and never actually do the plan. This has happened to me in particular with saving money. There have been times when I wanted to have a perfect plan of how I would save money, how much I would save each month, and what my overall saving goal was. Unfortunately, I would get so wrapped up in the details that I was delayed getting started or sometimes did not get started at all. It is best to keep plans for things like this simple. I am going to share a list of possible ways to save up money and maybe choose two of these and just run with them.
Why is working to save money worth it?
There are many reasons why it is a worthy goal to save money. Here are just a few of the benefits:
It gives you a foundation to draw on when needs, emergencies, or even big items we want to purchase come up. This foundation allows us to have a sense of stability.
Helps us to accomplish big goals like retiring, buying a house, buying a car, or getting married.
It helps us to be prepared for the everchanging circumstances of life. Some of these circumstances could be an unexpected illness, losing your job, having children, moving, or expenses that come with death of a loved one.
Allows us to prepare for special moments with our family and friends, such as going on vacation, gifts, or other expenses that come with special occasions.
What is your ‘why’ for wanting to save money?
The list above is a general list of reasons, but what is YOUR reason for saving money or wanting to save money? It could be a mixture of these or none of those at all. Consider taking time to think what you value and what saving money can do to serve your goals, desires, and lifestyle. Sometimes finding out ‘why’ can help us to move forward with actions to meet your goals.
I recently was determined to save all the money I could to buy a house. For a couple of years I saved all that I could, went to informational meetings about being a homeowner, went to showings, and shared my goal with my friends and family. After all that and saving a decent amount of money, I ended up deciding it was not the right time. I’m so thankful that I decided this because I ended up needing that savings to pay for an unexpected surgery and to purchase a car. Even though the money I saved did not go to the particular goal I had, it ended up being necessary for other expenses.
These are strategies of ways you can save money for your goals:
Automatically transfer money to your savings account every month or paycheck. Most online banking tools have an option to schedule transfers.
Save your coins in a jar or other container. It’s amazing how much this can add up. There has been times when I have also added dollar bills to my change jar too.
Track your progress towards your savings goals.
Having a savings accountability partner. My cousin and I did this once. It made budgeting so fun!
Save through making extra money through Ibotta or Swagbucks. I used Swagbucks as a way to save up for furnishing my new townhouse.
Decide how much you are wanting to save on a regular basis. But don’t overcomplicate it. Keep it simple.
Cardboard Box (I used one from the Dollar Tree that was 11.5” x 12.5”)
Mop Head (I bought mine from Dollar Tree)
Hot Glue Gun
Felt for the hat and scarf. I used 3 felt sheets
First, I decided how big I wanted my snowman to be and found items I could use to trace two circles on each side of the cardboard box. I then cut out the circles from the cardboard box.
Second, I cut out a rectangle and square from left over cardboard for the hat.
Third, I worked on the hat first, but you could always do this step later. I laid the rectangle on dark gray felt and hot glued the felt on the back of the cardboard. I did this by folding and gluing the sides first and then glued the top and bottom. I trimmed any excess felt from the sides. I repeated this same process with the square piece of cardboard. Once both pieces are covered with felt I glued the rectangle to the bottom edge of the square to make the hat.
Fourth, glue the circle you would like to be the head to the top of the second circle.
Fifth, I took apart the mop head. I did this by pulling a loop until I couldn’t pull anymore and then cut it with my scissors. I repeated this until all the loops were out of the mop head. I only needed one mop for the whole snowman.
Sixth, I started with the top circle and began to glue to the mop in a circular pattern. I eyeballed where I thought the middle of the top circle was and put some hot glue there and put a fold strand of a mop loop in the middle.
Seventh, I put a circle of hot glue around the already glued mop loop and continued to lay down the mop loop. I did this until the whole top circle was covered and then repeated this process for the bottom circle.
Eighth, I glued the hat to the top of the snowman’s head. You can add greenery to the hat if you would like to.
Ninth, I made the scarf. I took a felt square, from Hobby Lobby, and fold it in half on the long side and then fold it again. I then wrapped the scarf at the connection between the first and second circle and glued the felt to the backside of the cardboard. I then used another felt square and folded it in thirds and cut it on the bottom to the length I wanted and then glued the top in the fold of the felt scarf. Once it was glued, I cut small slits in the bottom.
Tenth, I glued three black buttons on the bottom circle to make the coat and then glued two buttons on the top circle for the eyes and one bigger button beneath those to make the nose.
I hope you give this a try! Post a picture or comment below if you do!
Money is one of those topics that is difficult to talk about, but is something that we all have to deal with in our every day life. Managing money can be hard and spending it can be too easy. Most of us have bills we are trying to keep up with, expenses that come up unexpectedly, fun activities we would like to pay for, and necessities like food and gas to purchase too. It can be hard balancing all of these expenses and sometimes can feel like there is just not enough money to go around! I know there has been times for me when I just got paid and then after all the expenses for that two weeks it’s just gone. This is why it is so important to have a budget.
Having a budget empowers us to know exactly how we want to spend out money and helps us to work towards our financial goals. When thinking about budgets it can seem like a tool that limits us, but in reality it can set us free from harmful habits and give us a picture of our true financial situation. There a several benefits to having a budget:
Gives you the power to plan for spending money on your priorities.
Allows you to track your habits and see where you are spending more money then you would like to.
Helps you to save more and work towards paying off debts.
Empowers you to confidently make financial decisions with your money!
Beware of little expenses; a small leak will sink a great ship.“
I have used a variety of budget tools. One that I enjoy is a binder system. The great thing about a binder is that you can add in pages and take them out as needed. It’s also a great way to keep all of your papers and receipts together. I recently found some great manila folders on Amazon that are perfect for budgeting because they have a monthly calendar on the front. You can watch a video I made below of how to use a binder for your budget!
These are affiliate links for items I bought on Amazon for the budget binder:
Below is a link to a previous blog post that I did about budgeting and there is a free download for a budget worksheet that you could use in a binder system.
I have gone through many seasons where I used tools to track things related to my wellness. Sometimes it’s tracking what I eat, exercise, stress, symptoms, medications, or progress of a goal. When working towards any new habit we have to put our attention towards making changes or choosing ways to support the new way of life. Writing and tracking my new habit on paper has been the most successful way for me to track wellness goals. I am a life long “journaler” and love to use writing as a way to process, to track, and to plan.
Why Use A Health Tracker?
Developing any new habit can be difficult. It takes time for our brain and body to adjust to the new way of living. The best tool to use when working on a new habit is using the tool of attention. So often as we live our life on auto pilot and we revert back to old habits. Because of this starting any new habit means we have to pay attention. Using a health tracker can help bring intentionality to the everyday choices we make about what we eat and how often we exercise. Being intentional and purposeful in our choices allows us to make decisions that supports the goals we are trying to accomplish. A health tracker can be an invaluable tool when planning for your health, tracking aspects of your wellness, and progressing towards your goals.
My Common Mistakes With Health Goals
There are mistakes that I’ve made when using a health tracker and making health goals that have derailed my progress.
Expecting Perfection: there have been times when I planned things out in my health tracker and everything was going well, but then I make a mistake. It could be that I ate that piece of cake or sweet I had been craving, or I didn’t do the exercise I planned for the day, or I got take out instead of eating what I had meal planned. Sometimes when these mistakes happen I would get so discouraged that I would just want to quit and give up on using the health tracker or feel like a failure. DON’T QUIT!!! We are human. We make mistakes and sometimes we just don’t make the best choices, but it’s okay!! Your goal isn’t ruined, you are not a failure, and your hard work is not cancelled out. We all go through this and it’s totally normal. Just make the next right choice. So what, lunch didn’t go as planned, maybe dinner will be better or maybe tomorrow will be better. Just keep going!! Your health is worth it! You are worth it!
Making Vague Goals: I often have these big ideas of things I would like to work on, but I forget to break my big goals into measurable small goals. For example, if you are wanting to lose 100lbs, that’s an awesome goal, but a bit overwhelming. How can you break that into measurable small goals? It could be that you are going to make a goal of losing 1lb per week instead of the big goal. Having small victories makes it easier to work towards our big goals.
Being Obsessed with Weight: There have been times when I’ve been working on being healthy and I get totally consumed by what the scale is saying. There have even been times when loved ones in my life had to hide the scale from me because I was so consumed by the numbers. I have found that I am much more successful when I make goals around behaviors rather than weight. For example, eating 4 servings of vegetables a day, or having only having one sweet treat per month, or exercising four times a week. These kinds of goals work much better for me because weight fluctuates for many reasons.
Health Tracker Features
There a variety of features to look for in a health tracker depending on what your goals are. Here is a walk-through of a health tracker that I created and the features.
These are affiliate links for items I have bought for my health tracker.
I love mushrooms! I know a lot of people may not like them because they are kind of an odd vegetable. I hope after reading this post you will consider giving them a try! It is important to know what mushrooms are toxic and which ones are safe to eat. The typical types of mushrooms found in the grocery store include shiitake, portobello, crimini, white mushrooms, oyster, enoki, beech, and maitake (Goldman, 2017).
Mushrooms have many nutritional benefits! Mushrooms have antioxidants, fiber, Vitamin B, copper and potassium (Goldman, 2017). I started eating mushrooms more when I was doing the Keto diet and this was one of the foods I ate in order to avoid the imbalance of potassium. It worked really well for me. This is a nutritious vegetable to add into your diet!
There are a variety of ways that I enjoy cooking mushrooms. I’ve roasted them in the oven with seasonings and other vegetables like asparagus, bell peppers, and green beans. I’ve also cooked them on the stove top and sautéed them with avocado oil and various seasonings as a side dish. What I did this week was cooked them in the air fryer! They turned out really well! Again, I’m no cooking expert, but here is what I did if you want to give it a try!
2 Cartons of Mushrooms
Seasonings that you like, I used Himalayan Salt, Pepper, and Garlic Salt
Liquid Aminos or Soy Sauce
Rinse mushrooms with cold water
Chop mushrooms into desired size. I chopped each mushroom into fours.
Put the mushrooms in a bowl and toss with avocado oil, Himalayan salt, pepper, and garlic salt.
Put mushrooms in air fryer for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.
Check on the mushrooms periodically to see if they need to be stirred.
When there is about 5 minutes left add liquid aminos or soy sauce.
When it’s done, enjoy! I ate mine over brown rice with chicken!
What does it look like to be resilient or to grow in resilience? Today we are going to focus in on growing resilience by mastering our sensations and utilizing our nervous system. Our body first experiences everything through our sensations. That is the primary language of our body and directly relates to how we experience stress, trauma, and calmness. Because of this it is very important to build resilience through our body’s natural language of sensations.
When I was first learning about sensations and resilience it was a foreign idea to me. It was strange to tune into my body and notice sensations I felt when stressed, relaxed, or triggered by a past trauma. But taking time to pay attention to our bodies and understand how it is communicating through internal sensations is essential to growing in resilience. For some of us it might be uncomfortable to pay attention to our body because of past traumas. So we have to be patient with ourselves. Healing takes time and is not a linear journey.
BEFRIENDING THE BODY
Trauma victims cannot recover until they become familiar with and befriend the sensations in their bodies. Being frightened means that you live in a body that is always on guard. Angry people live in angry bodies. The bodies of child-abuse victims are tense and defensive until they find a way to relax and feel safe. In order to change, people need to become aware of their sensations and the way that their bodies interact with the world around them. Physical self-awareness is the first step in releasing the tyranny of the past.
In my practice I begin the process by helping my patients to first notice and then describe the feelings in their bodies—not emotions such as anger or anxiety or fear but the physical sensations beneath the emotions: pressure, heat, muscular tension, tingling, caving in, feeling hollow, and so on. I also work on identifying the sensations associated with relaxation or pleasure. I help them become aware of their breath, their gestures and movements.
All too often, however, drugs such as Abilify, Zyprexa, and Seroquel, are prescribed instead of teaching people the skills to deal with such distressing physical reactions. Of course, medications only blunt sensations and do nothing to resolve them or transform them from toxic agents into allies.
The mind needs to be reeducated to feel physical sensations, and the body needs to be helped to tolerate and enjoy the comforts of touch. Individuals who lack emotional awareness are able, with practice, to connect their physical sensations to psychological events. Then they can slowly reconnect with themselves.”
The ideal state for us to be in to grow in resilience is the resilient zone. This is a concept founded by Threshold Global Works. Being in this zone is important because it is where we can experience a natural eb and flow of stress and calm. This eb and flow allows us to experience stress but for it not to build up to unhealthy levels. When there is this type of rhythm our body is able to release the stress before it triggers us to be in survival modes.
This is a depiction of the resilient zone. When we are in the resilient zone we are balanced, adaptable, flexible, able to creative problem solve, and to respond instead of react. In this zone we function at our best. This is because we have full access to our brain and logical processing. When we are bumped out of our resilient zone, our brain signals to our body to release stress hormones, which limits our ability to logically process situations.
All of us have different capacities for how much stress we can manage. Author Matthew Bennett, gives a great visual in his books using cups. All of us have different size resilient zones like having different size cups that can hold certain amounts of stress (Bennett, 2017). When our cup is overflowing with stress we are out of our resilient zone.
How can we grow in our resilience or grow the size of our cup? One of the tools to use is attention. Paying attention to how your body responds to stress and relaxation. We can practice this by tracking or noticing the sensations in our body when we are feeling overwhelmed or when we are joyful or in a situation that brings us feelings of peace. Another tool is grounding. When you are feeling stressed or even just as a daily practice it is nice to take a moment and just notice the support of the floor or your chair. Put all of your attention to that support and notice what sensations you feel in your body when you do that. Notice you breath, your muscle tension, and sensations. Consider taking time today or this week to notice the sensations in your body and practice grounding.
Bennett, M. (2017). Connecting Paradigms A Trauma-Informed & Neurological Framework for Motivational Interviewing Implementation. Bennett Innovation Group, L3C.
Working, whether paid or volunteer, takes up a large part of our life and time. I wanted to write a post about resumes, but then I thought it would be good to first write about how to know what kind of jobs or opportunities we are looking for. There are times that we overthink what we are wanting to do for work and how to spend our time. I fall prey to this too often and sometimes it leaves me feeling stuck and not taking any action at all. We are all gifted and have something to offer in the workplace!
How do we figure out where we want to work or the kind of work we want to do? I think there is a variety or ways to make these types of decisions. The worksheet that I have below is a reflective tool to consider your strengths, passions, hopes, desired job, work experience, and steps you would take to get to the job or opportunity you are looking for. How can you use your passions, skills, and talents to benefit the community, do what you love or enjoy, and live in your purpose? I know for me personally my faith is really important to me and something I consider is how can I use my career, my gifts, and skills to honor the Lord, be generous, enjoy the life I’ve been given, and serve the community. For me this is what it looks like to walk in my purpose. What does it look like for you? What steps can you take to get to where you want to be?
How do you cope with transitions? I am in the midst of a big transition right now. I previously moved back home to go to school for my masters in social work. I finished my masters and am moving back out on my own! So excited!! But along with the excitement is fear, anxieties, and pressure. I tend to not handle transitions well. There are times when I don’t choose the best ways to cope like going shopping or get a large pizza. But here are some other ways that help me cope!
1. Pray, Pray, Pray! I don’t know about you but for me, my faith is a big part of my coping process. But it’s not simply that I trust in Jesus to get me through transitions, but I trust him daily to hold me together and provide. So even today as my mind was full of concerns and things to do on my list, I also continuously ask that the Lord would be honored in my life, praying for his help and seeking his wisdom.
2. Laughter! If you know me, then you know I am continuously laughing and giggling. It helps me to find humor in life and just enjoy being silly! Like when I bought this scarecrow hat that I had seen on the Shabby Tree. It’s so silly, but it made me happy, it made me smile and relieved some of the pressure of this move.
3. Time with Friends and Family! During this time I’ve gotten to spend time with several friends and family members that had brought me joy and reminded me that I am not in this transition alone. Sometimes when we are moving or in the midst of a transition it can feel lonely. But take a moment and look to see who is in your corner and is willing to weather through the transition with you!
4. Spending Time Outside! I was so thankful to have some time this weekend to be outside at my favorite park and enjoy the trees, nature, and water.
5. Get Creative! Sometimes we just need a creative release. Try a new craft or one that is dear to you. Just spend time enjoying a moment of focusing on making something with your hands.
6. Exercise! There’s has been many times this week when I needed a break from the stress of life and did a few yoga poses, walking outside, or exercise at the gym. Consider using movement to release some of that stressful energy. But be careful not to over due it and listen to what your body needs!
7. Gradual Progress! I know this isn’t always an option, but something that helps me is to work towards a change gradually. For me this had looked like packing a few boxes at a time and gradually getting ready for the move so that it’s not overwhelming to all the sudden need to do the whole move at once.
8. Take A Break! Enjoy some time to just relax and rest! You are important and it’s essential to take care of you! Sometimes this means choosing to rest instead of pack or stopping to eat a nutritious lunch or going to bed early.
9. Journal! Take time to journal how you are feeling about the transition. A way of journaling I’ve been doing to help with the transition is to write something I’m grateful for or looking forward to about this transition whenever I start feeling stressed about it. Sometimes perspective is everything and journaling can help release stress and refocus our perspective.
10. Be Present! Sometimes when we are stressed and worried we are not being present in the moment. It’s easy to be consumed with what could happen or with what might go wrong. Be intentional to be present in the moment you are in.
Stress and trauma impact the way our body and brain functions. Have you ever felt so stressed or upset that it was hard to think clearly? It can be hard to calm our mind and think clearly when we are stressed, working through traumatic experiences, or living in survival modes. But there is hope! We have the power to change our brain! You and I can use tools of resilience to increase our calmness and to release stressful energy and sensations in our body.
First let’s talk about how stress and trauma impacts our brains and bodies. Our brain has something called the amygdala that acts as an alert system. When the amygdala detects a trigger of a past trauma or danger to our emotional or physical safety it alerts the body to release stress hormones in order for the body to get to safety. When this happens we begin to be in survival modes of fight, flight, or freeze. When we are in these survival modes we can have a hard time thinking clearly and we may lose our ability to problem solve and can become emotionally reactive. Being in a state of survival for long periods of time can impact our brain and body in negative ways.
But do you remember that hope I talked about earlier? Hope that we can change our brain? It’s all because our brain was designed in a way that allows for it to have something called neuroplasticity. This just means that our brain has the ability to build new neuropathways in order to support the habits we are living out today. This is important because when we are first doing something new it feels really hard and difficult. But eventually as we keep pursuing this new habit it gets easier and easier. The reason for that is that our brain is building new neuropathways to support our life choices.
What kind of tools can we use to create this new habit of feeling calm instead of being in a survival mode or overwhelmed by stress? The key to allowing the brain to build new pathways for new habits is practicing tools of resilience by using the tool of attention. We can use our attention by focusing on things that bring us sensations of calmness. This could be a grounding exercise where we are placing our attention to a solid surface that is supporting us like the seat of a chair, or the floor beneath our feet. During this type of exercise you would just want to focus all of your attention towards that solid surface and allow any distracting thought to be still as you focus in on that support. Another skill is to focus on a good thing in your life or something that is a resource to you. It could be your pet that you love dearly, a hobby you enjoy, a place you love to go, or a memory that is dear to you. Taking a moment to think of something that brings you joy can be a calming experience. Below is a journal prompt to help practice using the skill of attention.
We all worry, think about, plan around, and try to budget our money. There are a lot of tools that can help with this including apps, websites, and excel spreadsheets. I am a paper person and work best with budget journals.
These are helpful features that are to have in a budgeting tool:
Monthly Overview: This is simply a space to write a summary of your income, expenses, and goals for the month
Weekly Overview: Having this kind of feature is good to plan how each paycheck will be spent on expenses specifically.
Spending Trackers: Are helpful to see how we spend money and to notice our habits
Debt & Savings Trackers: See the progress being made on paying off debts and working towards saving goals.
To meet financial goals it is important to be intentional with how we spend, invest, and save. Here is a tool that might help!
This is a blog spotlight about egg plant being in season in September and the fun of trying new foods.
If you are anything like me, you may not know what vegetables and fruits are in season. In Ohio, one of the vegetables in season in September is the mysterious Eggplant. Besides being a beautiful color, eggplant is nutritious and a good source of vitamin K, vitamin C, and antioxidants (Link, 2017).
One of my neighbors had a ripened eggplant in her garden that she was not going to use and generously gave it to me to try. I have eaten eggplant at Olive Garden before, which was of course delicious, and had tried to cook it once for myself and it did NOT go so well. I ventured to try cooking egg plant again! This time I used an air fryer, which by the way is amazing and I would highly recommend it. I found a recipe that sounded good and went for it! One thing to know about me is that I am terrible at following recipe directions. I tend to take the instructions as suggestions and just do what I think sounds like it would be tasty and I don’t always measure. Because of this I am not here to give cooking advice, but want to spot light some vegetables and fruits to try each month.
The original recipe I used was by Holly, on Spend with Pennies (2021). I first cut the eggplant into slices and sprinkled salt on top to get out any extra moisture. After leaving it for about a half hour I used a paper towel to press out any excess moisture. I then dipped the eggplant in a bowl of whisked eggs and then in a bowl with panko, parmesan cheese, and seasonings. Then I cooked it in the air fryer. for 12 minutes on 380 degrees and flipped the slices after 6 minutes. The eggplant was soft and went well with quinoa and brown rice noodles and tomato basil sauce. Consider giving eggplant a try this month and find a recipe that fits the cooking tools and equipment you have at home!
Leave a comment if you try a recipe with egg plant this month!