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Life Changing Secrets of Happy People

Tuesday, July 31, 2018
coffee; happy; conversation
Have I mentioned how much I like coffee? Well, I kind of love it. Y'all... it is so good! Coffee is not just good. It is great because it has been a conversation starter in most of the meaningful conversations I remember having through the years.

I enjoy listening to people talk about what they love about life. To sit across from someone you know or someone you are getting to know can be the most interesting experience. I tend to look for smile lines on people's faces. When we talk about family, friends, and even a passion, I tend to see those lines more often. Here are some common attributes for a lot of the happy people I've encountered:

Gratefulness
They never fail to say what they are thankful for. It does not matter how big or small it is, ALL will know! They also like to know what you appreciate in your life and they celebrate with you. These people remind me of what life is truly about. #lovefirst

Joyfulness
These people are encouragers. They are more interested in seeing the good in life. They tend to make your day brighter with a smile, hug, and kind words. They like to make people laugh too. You find yourself enjoying life a little more because you have spent time around them. These kind of people are gold.

Authenticity
They are not interested in making their lives a copy of anyone else's. These people are usually bold. They are not afraid to take a risk. They humbly embrace imperfection because they recognize their humanity and they are not afraid of it. They know that within their imperfection lies an unshakeable strength. We need these people!

Memory Makers
They are always up for capturing the moment to reminisce about it later. These are the people that will snap a photo and post it just because they want to remember how hard you both laughed at a joke. They will share it to your timeline and laugh again later because it was a memory made with you! They value their people!

We could all use a little more joy in life. Sometimes we get bogged down with getting it all right that we forget to stop and smell the bluebonnets (Texas, Y'all😉). Consider these things the next time you have a conversation. Look for the gold in others and you will find it. 

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The Truth About Procrastination and Why You Should Stop

Sunday, July 29, 2018

At some point or another, we have all been guilty of putting off things that needed to be done for the sake of having a few more minutes of peace. Just one more minute of watching your favorite TV series, finishing a chapter in the book you can't put down, eating out for the umpteenth time to avoid cooking, etc.

Many of us know what procrastination is (to intentionally AND habitually put something off) but we really don't look into why we do it. Procrastination is usually a symptom of a root issue. Procrastination can be brought on by many things including:
  • stress
  • burnout
  • laziness
  • self-doubt
  • fear
  • perfectionism
  • anxiety
  • lack of motivation
  • negativity
Just to list a few root reasons why. I can say that I have experienced each one of these things personally and each one had their own set of consequences. This included the last-minute adrenaline rush to meet a deadline rolling in on fumes! Have a few of these in a row and tell me how you feel. I'll be here!👋😅  Once I identified why I was procrastinating on getting stuff done, I assumed I needed a quick fix to get out of it and this is the worst thing to do.

Our short-term memory can hold up to seven items at a time due to its limited capacity. Read more about it here. Depending on how long we are consumed by another task, we can easily lose this information because our brains are hard-wired to produce what we believe to be important and forget about the rest.

As adults, many times our brains fire off in multiple directions because we have a lot on our plate. We have families to take care of, a job to go to, a social life to maintain, a social media presence to consistently update. Something eventually falls through and whether we like it or not, most of the time things end up on our shoulders to deal with. I am not advocating that you don't take time to take care of yourself. That would defeat the purpose of many of the things I choose to write about.

What I am advocating for is to really understand why we end up in these dysfunctional patterns and how to stop them. Procrastination isn't the major cause (I can't necessarily say what is), but it does affect our daily function. I believe the reason we procrastinate is that we do not insert time to care for ourselves in a way that we feel refreshed and revitalized. So when we finally get a few minutes to ourselves after a long day, it is super easy to over-indulge and we forget that we have a routine to carry out the next day.

 The key is to find a middle ground through manageability. If I add on major changes such as waking up at 5 am, making a to-do list as long as my body, exercising morning and night until my legs fall off, I would only put myself into a bigger hole to crawl out of. How many times have you made promises to yourself to do better and end up right back to square one? You feel worse than you did before.

Let's say you've taken the time to figure out your why. Now you focus on manageability. Instead of snowballing into another fantasy land where you create high demands for yourself expecting a great outcome, manage your expectations with small changes. Those small changes produce a more satisfactory outcome that you want to repeat. You are basically conditioning yourself AWAY from your old habits. Who knows, maybe one day you will be able to fly high and get up at 5 am or complete that really long list and still have energy. You have to start somewhere!

Everyone has a different life experience. What works for me may not work for you and vice versa but there are a couple of things that I keep in mind when I am overcoming procrastination in an area of my life:

Why have I not accomplished my goal?
Take some time to scroll back to the mini-list of reasons why people procrastinate.  You are responsible for the goals you set. If you are not where you would like to be, do yourself a favor and make an adjustment that you can manage. Maybe go to bed half an hour early. Log out of social media to avoid scrolling an hour straight. Get to work twenty minutes early. Start small, repeat, re-evaluate a month later and see where you are again. If you are actively trying, expect a good outcome. 

What am I working towards?
When I am without a vision for something I would like to check off my list or even just do better, I am not motivated and it won't get done. You have to know where you are going in life. I have also learned that when I have a vision for something, I am much more graceful with myself if something does not work out especially if I have done what I can and asked for help to get there. 

Cited Sources (MLA)
  • McLeod, S. (2009). Short-Term Memory. Retrieved July 29, 2018, from https://www.simplypsychology.org/short-term-memory.html
  • "Definition of PROCRASTINATE." Dictionary by Merriam-Webster: America's Most-trusted Online Dictionary, www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/procrastinate.

Words of Encouragement to the Tirelessly Busy

Monday, July 23, 2018
personal-growth, self-care, encouragement

Sometimes, life feels like one big test after another. You are constantly growing, fixing, maintaining so much, by the time you look up a huge chunk of your life has passed. I have to remind myself that as much as I want to get things right the first time around, I need to be intentional about living in the present too. At the end of the day, you know that you are doing your best and that counts for something. Life is not meant to be full of sorrow. So the next time you feel overwhelmed, take time to remind yourself of a few things:

Accept yourself. The good, the bad, the quirks and all. For once in your life forget about the opinions, comparisons, and judgments and fully LOVE who you are. Look at your face in the mirror and remind yourself that you are wonderfully made and there will never be another like you. Do this until you believe it because it is the truth! Anyone can find ways to boost their self-esteem but if you don't love your being from the core, emptiness will still be there. Start with YOU!

"Someone else's opinion of you is NONE of your business."-Rachel Hollis

Look at all you've accomplished. I know it feels good to be at the top but be proud that you have come so far. When I am grateful for the things in life, a confidence takes place on the inside of me and I feel like I can do so much more. It is okay for you to revisit the times you felt good about reaching a goal. Let gratitude become a part of the journey you've worked so hard for.

Do not feel obligated to keep up with others. We all cross paths of people who are meant to be in our lives for a season and a few for a lifetime. As this occurs, different pathways are created to take us where we need to be. This is a natural process. It isn't about quickly accepting this as fact, it is all about gracefully accepting it with peace and understanding. You are not behind. You are right where you need to be in life!

Speak well of yourself. One of my good friends pointed out to me one day that I never said thank you when someone complimented me. I gave explanations or downplayed it like it wasn't a big deal. By the time I was done, it really wasn't. If you do this, please stop. Just a simple thank you will work. If they have questions they will ask. If there is an awkward silence, fill the gap with something positive like, "Thank you. I appreciate you noticing!" Avoid negative communication fillers at all cost.

Not everything or everyone deserves a reaction. Let's be honest here, there are some things and people in our lives that absolutely drive us up the wall crazy. Most of the time we express frustration and as a result we make the situation worse this way. This is because we do not know what our triggers are. This is where self-care comes into play. Yes! Know thyself! When you have made time to listen to your body and what it needs, the less you will allow drama in life to affect you. You are in authority over how you respond in high-stress situations. Explore ways to diffuse those situations by taking care of yourself so they don't get the best of you.

Recognize your own strength. Don't allow others to make assumptions on your behalf regarding your values, beliefs, desires, and necessities. You are responsible for how you feel and respond. When you allow other people to do this, you release that power to them. This does not mean disregard relationships that sharpen you. It is wise to listen to those who love us and want the best. Distinguishing your thoughts from someone else's is to think for yourself. You can make your thoughts known to those who are able to discuss things in a healthy and safe environment.

Let yourself off the hook. No one is immune to failure. A past consists of successes and lessons learned. You didn't get where you are by perfection. You got where you are by pushing past fear and doubt. Hope was and is inside of your heart. Your life alone proves everyone who has ever doubted you wrong. When you were expected to quit, you took another leap forward. When you were pressured to accept judgments against you, those ugly words rolled off your back and you remembered your worth! They will remain exactly where they need to be- in your past! You are allowed to grow up. So, let go and dust yourself off!

Take a deep breath and relax. We are just getting started. You have your whole life to look forward to. It may not always be the way we planned, but we live it well-intentioned one day at a time. I hope you feel encouraged. Feel free to share your thoughts below in the comment section.

New Orleans Bound + Weekend Fun

Thursday, July 19, 2018

We ended up in New Orleans! Yeah!! We had some scattered storms throughout the time we visited so there was an overcast in a lot of my photos. Let's be honest, I am not a professional yet either. 🙋 Overall, the weather was not as hot as I expected it to be. Humid, yes. Nothing extreme. People didn't seem too bothered by the rain. Carry on, NOLA! During our anniversary trip, my husband and I got to participate in a LOT of walking. We got to see so much beautiful scenery. It was like this place was stuck in time in the best way.



We strolled downtown into the French Quarter. It amazes me how many shops and art studios can fit into these buildings. Some of the them had passage-ways that led down into other hallways, buildings, streets you wouldn't see at first glance. 


There were a lot of buildings that stood out from the crowd. This one specifically caught my eye because it really made me feel like I was experiencing the French Quarter back in time. It was rustic and elegant! The baskets of flowers were a nice touch too.

Magnolia Sugar & Spice Praline Kitchen & Hot Sauce Bar

This adorable shop makes a Crawfish Jelly! My husband went straight to it when he saw it. He grabbed a sample pretzel and asked me to take the first bite. I love trying new foods but it did not make sense in my mind how it would taste. I tried it anyway and it was SO GOOD. It was sweet with a kick of spice AND it kind of tasted like the sauce of crawfish?? It is definitely worth another visit. 


French Qaurter LUSH Shop (lush bomb was just dropped in water)

The fragrance from this shop will wisk you away from the crowds and into their door. As soon as I walked in, I remember closing my eyes and taking a deep breath. There was so much creativity happening. The attendants were extremely energetic also! Bright colors and happy faces everywhere!

Cafe Du Monde's Beignets

As you can see, there were two orders. I did not plan on sharing. My shirt was covered in powdered sugar in PUBLIC and I could not have cared less. My first bite of a beignet ever was delicious. I know that they sell the mix so you can make them at home but it isn't the same. Long story short, I managed to scarf down two of them and my sweet ol' husband took care of the rest. If our trip had been longer...just sayin'. 




After walking along the French Quarter for a little while, we decided to try out the Gumbo Shop. I tried the Seafood Okra gumbo because I am a HUGE fan of seafood. I thorougly enjoyed it. My husband tried the Chicken Andouille gumbo. We both decided the Seafood Okra was definitely the winner. See their full menu here.





Scene by Rhys was one of the many art galleries we went by. The artwork is gorgeous! She creates art during live music! How neat!! If you are ever in NOLA, check her out!




The streetcar pictured above is unique because there is a conductor on both ends. We were actually watching this one reverse (from our view) a couple of blocks away. We didn't get to ride this trip but it is definitely on the list of things to do next time. Hopefully we will be able to stay longer!

We visited the Garden district as kind of a rest stop. The houses are breathtakingly beautiful. The sun was covered by the clouds but people were out and about pushing strollers and running with their pups. The trees were my favorite. Most of them are really old so they kind of grew toward each other over the streets giving everything a nice cool shade. 

A few more places (not shown):
International House New Orleans - We reserved a KING room! (website)
Mr. B's Bistro (website)
The Historic New Orleans Collection (website)

Overall, our weekend trip went really well! Since New Orleans is only four hours away, we plan to go again. My to-do list is ever growing of things to do while in NOLA. I had some recommendations that we already tried, but I could use more! The ones we did visit did not disappoint! Have you ever been to New Orleans? Are you from there? Message me or comment below! Thanks for stopping by!


Self-care and Ways to Beat Stress


The first time I heard the term "self-care", my mind immediately thought to forget everybody and everything and run to the spa for an entire day. See ya! As much as I want that to be true, it isn't. Obviously, there are so many efficient ways to practice self-care.

Through research, I found that self-care was created by medical professionals dating all the way back to the 1960's. Self-care was practiced by individuals that were under the guidance of a physician for a number of mental and physical illnesses. The act of self-care is to preserve oneself to enjoy the benefits of a long life. The practice of self-care has evolved around the basics of eating healthy food, exercise and fitness, mindfulness, and simply enjoying an activity of leisure of your choice. A few years ago self-care became a trendy word to use to justify the latter. 

Reality is, the stressors of every day adult life can outweigh the short term effects of splurging once or twice to make you feel good momentarily. I find that people who practice self-care typically have some sort of routine which is what I strive for. Some people find waking up early to go for walk in fresh air before their day begins works for them every morning. Some choose to buy organic food only as a way of caring for their bodies. Some utilize a daytime break at work to meditate and get rid of toxic thoughts. There are so many things you can do to practice self-care. Take some time to see what works for you. 


Do your research. Ask around! See if others know what it is and if they practice it. They may have a self-care routine and not call it that. Either way, it helps you determine what is manageable for the kind of lifestyle you live. By the way, I do love the luxuries! Spa's are great! They are just not today's main focus. The bigger picture of what self-care can be is far more sustaining.

Wait, so I need a routine? A routine just works because it is planned time! Getting into a rhythm of carving out time for yourself is the idea. When considering a routine, these questions may help you decide! Does it reduce stress? Anxiety? Can you afford to keep it up most of the time if not on a daily basis? Do you feel relaxed or energized afterwards?

Is it okay to practice self-care when others depend on you? Absolutely! When you are confident and refreshed, the tension from stress is no longer holding your body captive. Your brain is free to process correctly throughout the day. When you are your best, you can be your best for others! Trust me, they will appreciate it because your effort comes from a place of love and/ or respect, not resentment. On the same note, you cannot make everyone happy. You can try but your mind and body will buckle under the weight of it all unfortunately. We are just not made to do that. Take care of yourself. 

Here are some ways to help you get started:

Journaling- It's simple. There is a freedom of being able to say what ever you want on paper, free of judgment, and for the sake of clearing space in your mind. Write it down!

Pilate's exercise - I am not the most energetic person in the world so how I breathe will determine if I have a successful workout or pass out. Just sayin'. Your body will thank you. Here are some YouTube channels I love: Blogilates & Fitness Blender

Meal Prep- Pinterest is amazing if you need some inspiration. Look for healthy foods you would want to eat. For example, I don't like tomatoes. I love avocados. I would base my prep off of food I like and add one to try. You are in charge of what you make so have fun with it. 

Music- Create a playlist of your favorite music. It doesn't have to be super long. You can even make multiple for different categories like relaxation, dance party, etc. Your options are limitless. Remember, this is time for you! 

The key is to be consistent and intentional. Your overall well being initially sets the tone for the quality of what you put out into the world. What are some ways you practice self-care? How does it affect your life? Comment below. Until next time. Thanks for stopping by!

Two Favorites: Weekend & Books!

Friday, July 13, 2018
This week has been super productive. Ending the day with making a slow cooker pot roast for tomorrow afternoon. Every room is filled with glorious aromas! I cannot wait!! (See recipe here
Saturday mornings are the best. I will be sleeping in. YAY! Currently unwinding with tea and a couple of books that I have from my nightstand. I have been switching back and forth between reading and completing the fourth season of How To Get Away With Murder on Netflix. Now I am standing by for season 5! By the way...in season 4,  Shonda Rhimes turned my world upside down and all around by featuring Viola Davis and Scandal's Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) in the SAME episode! What a cross-over! I hope this isn't too much of a spoiler for those of you watching along! Talk about all the feels. Those women are powerhouses! Okay, gush overload I know. Books. We need to talk about books. 🙋

When I read books, I typically read more than one at a time to keep things interesting. I try to max myself out around 3 or 4. Once I complete a book, I find another and rotate as necessary. I like to have a thoughtful book, a self-help book, and a no-brainer of my choice by one of my favorite authors so I know that I will like it and be entertained by it. This process isn't always streamline. Sometimes, I will put a book back on my shelf if I have a feeling it would be better suited for another season. 

Current Reads

Own the Room by Amy Jen Su & Maignan Wilkins
I highly recommend this book for those of you that want to grow in your leadership skills. The author shares how you can maximize the skill set you have with your own creative voice. I find that most of the context of the book is practical. 

Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend
This book is a double whammy for me because Dr. Cloud is one of my favorite authors. He is like the comparison of John Maxwell to the Christian Psychology realm. Boundaries is a book I like to read repeatedly. What you don't know can hurt you sometimes relationally which is why I am such an advocate for self-improvement. Why not take time to fill in the gaps? I promise this is a book that will always be in my library. 

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Yes, if you must know. I watched the movie before I read the book! I bought the book and I've not watched the movie since. How about them apples? It is a fictional time travel novel about a couple (Henry & Clare) who eventually meet at different time frames of their lives. They begin a life together but the time travel takes a toll and... My chest tightens every time Henry has to go. I'll leave it at that. 

This weekend won't be just about relaxing. My husband and I are celebrating our two year wedding anniversary. Woot! We plan on getting out of town and finding something fun and spontaneous to do. Somewhere with GOOD food for sure. Time passes so fast! We are definitely making the best of it!  

Please note: The above opinions are of my own. I do not have endorsements or sponsorships for the above information mentioned. Thanks for stopping by!


Slacking Lately? Here are Some Simple Ways to Get Back on Track!

Sunday, July 8, 2018

I cannot believe 2018 is halfway gone! My schedule has been a rollercoaster in terms of productiveness and relaxation. I either sleep in when I can or I struggle to make it out of bed when I need to be somewhere.

I have tried multiple remedies to help with this such as putting my phone alarm in the next room to avoid getting back in bed, buying a separate alarm, jolting my entire body out of bed and leaving the room as soon as I hear it. All those tips have helped once or twice, but not enough. So I have created my own routine which helps me to not be such a groggy grinch!

Start the night before.
Research has proven a minimum of eight hours of sleep is needed for adults each night to be effective the next day. I don't know about y'all but I can really sleep. Eight hours is a starting point for me. (I am a sleeping champion!) Anything less and I am at risk of being late. I didn't really take this seriously until I began to see my consequences such as being late to work, meeting friends, etc. It isn't fun missing out so get some sleep!

Prepare the necessities.
What are you going to wear? Do you need to prep food for tomorrow? Does it take you an hour to put on your make up? Take these questions into consideration before you go to bed. If you are like me, making it into the shower is an accomplishment before jumping into bed. Don't cheat yourself, take 20 minutes and prepare these things so you can avoid delay.

Find your inspiration.
One of the things I have discovered about myself is if I am not inspired or motivated to do something, the contents of my schedule do not become priority. My brain will recognize that a social life and work are necessary, but my actions are extremely sluggish as a result. I like to think of myself as a faithful person so disappointment feels like a slap on the wrist for such behavior. 

In order to fix it, here are a few things that help me get my groove back (in no particular order):

1. Wake up a few minutes early for ME time and coffee (or tea).

2. Journal a few reasons as to why what you plan to do is important to you.

3. Create a theme for your day by playing a song that gets you energized.

4. Create a short non-negotiable to-do list as in, if YOU don't get it done, it won't get done. 

Plan your fun too.
When I have the mindset of "I have to", it is difficult to truly live well. Life can take turns at any time with little to no warning. If you have a demanding schedule of "have to's" and you find that it isn't fulfilling, take inventory of those things. What can you adjust or cut out to make time for enjoyment? Gradually make the changes you need to. Plan day trip, visit the ice cream shop, get a pedi, plan a beach trip with your loved ones, etc. Do it for you. We only get one life here. Make it count!

What are some ways that help you to get back on track? Comment below!

Ways to Live Past Fear

Thursday, July 5, 2018

As I recount the timeline of my life, I can easily access the good and bad memories that have shaped the way I am today. For the most part, I consider myself fortunate because I know things could have turned out for the worst, but I am here today as proof that you don't have to accept the struggles of life as your only path.

Fear. The act of being scared to or of... I have known it all too well starting from an early age. My body can signal the flight or fight response as quickly as I blink sending sharp pings of what feels like ice through my spine and stomach as I respond by fleeing or sitting- paralyzed by what took place. If it were the other way around I might respond differently than I do today, who knows? Fear will teach you how to respond, but it will not teach you how to FULLY live.

I had always been labeled as quiet and sweet. Those labels became my personality and my comfort and I hated it. Not that what was said was a bad thing, but it became bad when I needed to learn how to be strong and that is all I had to rely on. Eventually, what is comfortable won't work anymore and you must choose to break out of the fear that holds you captive. It was a bubble I could not burst no matter what. I feared what people thought of me. I feared making mistakes. I feared the consequences of those mistakes. I feared disappointment. I feared I couldn't escape no matter how hard I tried because it was simply who I was and in turn I began to hate myself for it. I knew I was more than that but fear seeped in perverting every good thing I thought about myself.

Sometimes there is a temptation to shrink back in to the negative emotions that try to overwhelm me. I am human so some days they win-some days! I have learned to arm myself with acknowledging the fear. If there is truth to something I need to work on, I make note of it but I don't dwell on it because this can worsen the strong emotions I already feel. In due time, the lasting change will take place.

I remind myself who I am today and what I have left behind. I do not allow the emotions to rule me. I affirm the good things about who I am and move on. I learned to do these things for myself! People (as well meaning as they can be) can build you up and tear you down in the same breathe if they want to and because of this, it is important to be grounded in your identity which will keep you from relying on their praise and criticism. You have to learn how to stand!

By taking control, I began to see that my quality of living increased. I responded differently in my relationships. My productivity in the workplace also increased because I was not drained by negativity. I found ways to incorporate positive thinking in to my life even when I did not feel like it by listening to podcasts, YouTube videos, books, etc. Overall, I found it much easier to take risks because I knew what I brought to the table. You must truly believe you are worth it. It won't be an overnight process but one of substance and fulfillment. 

I am fearless.
I am unconditionally loved.
I am valuable beyond measure.
I am beautiful.
I am made for greatness.

I will not allow fear to control me. 
I have authority over fear!

I do this not just to feel better, but to remind my body, soul, and mind of what is true. This is about taking control of your thoughts and actions. If you allow it to be so, your struggles will live your life for you throwing you around in fear rendering you defeated. Don't allow it to be so. Your life does not have to be perfect for you to start changing the way you feel about yourself. You deserve to live life at your best.