30-Day Be More Positive Challenge: Days 7-12 Reflections

Hello! This post will cover my reflections on Days 7-12 of the 30-Day Be More Positive Challenge. If you missed my Reflections of Days 1-6, make sure to check those out as well!

Day 7: Think about the best parts of your life while you’re waiting in line or at a stop light.

Stoplights and lines are usually places where I complain in my head about all the things that I could be doing with my time instead of sitting there waiting. So this was a great challenge for me! I took a second to look in the rearview mirror at my beautiful children, to thank God for the working car I was driving, to appreciate the nice weather, to be thankful for good health, for my husband and how hard he works to provide for our family, and more! This really made a difference in my mindset! We spend a lot of time waiting each day, and this time can either be used as a positive influence or a negative influence. When you choose to utilize that time as a positive influence you are not wasting it, and you are not letting it control you!

Day 8: Take a few minutes to write down your values. What is most important in your life?

Here is a list of my values:

  • God is Lord over my life & Jesus is my Savior
  • Our purpose in life is to glorify God, not ourselves & our accomplishments
  • My husband and my children are my first priority over other people
  • Loving and caring for those around me is more important than my own material wants
  • Our possessions and money belong to God and we should be good stewards of them
  • Encouragement is essential in any relationship

Reflecting on your values allows you to recognize what is most important and to actually start living them out. You are probably already focusing on most of them in your daily life, but stating them makes it more of a reality and a challenge to yourself to be the person whose life revolves around those values. If we don’t stand for anything it is easy to get sucked into what others believe is important. In order to maintain a positive mindset and experience joy in our lives, we have to know who we are. In my life, that means recognizing who created me (God) and what I was created for (to glorify Him). If I don’t keep that first in my mind it is easy to become overwhelmed and bogged down by the pressures, negative cultural influences, and stresses of the world.

Day 9: Whenever you have a minute, take 3 full deep breaths to get your oxygen flowing.

This challenge is *literally* a breath of fresh air. πŸ˜‰ But seriously, how often do you do this if you’re not intentional about it? I know I never do. Taking three full deep breaths helps me to stop my body from moving and my mind from racing for a couple of seconds, but really that is all it takes to redirect and refocus your thoughts. Sometimes I just have 5,000 thoughts running through my head at once creating a sense of chaos and of being overwhelmed. Taking three deep breaths helps me to focus on one. Other times I can only focus on one thought, but it is never a positive one. Taking three deep breaths in that situation helped me to calm down, and redirect to what I actually need to think about, or even just an opposite & positive version of what I had been thinking before! This challenge is SO easy but so vital to our mental health.

*This post contains affiliate links.

Day 10: Dance, run, jump on a trampoline. Get out there & get your endorphins going for at least 5 minutes.

So, this one was a challenge with two kids under 5 in the Winter (yup it was 30 degrees outside), but we did it! I bundled up the littlest one in my Ergobaby Carrier (<–that one is on sale for $25 off right now on Amazon!), put a hat, scarf, gloves, and winter coat on Joy, grabbed the dog & off we went! Honestly by the end of the 20-minute walk, everyone (including me) was in tears but hey, we did it. πŸ™‚ Although it was a struggle, it was good just to get out of that house! It got my endorphins going, breathing cold air definitely woke me up, and it motivated me to keep that positive energy going the rest of the day!

Day 11: Do something nice for someone unexpectedly. Keep your eyes open for someone who could use a boost.

So, surprises & gift-giving is kind of a hobby/favorite thing of mine, making this one of the more fun challenges for me. It also came the day after my husband had bought me these beautiful flowers for no reason other than love: πŸ™‚

So I knew that my nice thing was going to be for my husband because come on, those are BEAUTIFUL. Even though him giving me something first may have disqualified this as an “unexpectedly” thing, but oh well. I ended up just surprising him with ice cream at work (his favorite – Reese’s PB Cups with chocolate in milkshake form.) I also bought a little cup of ice cream for my daughter (who can always use a boost because she is an emotional preschooler) and that made her day. (Not to mention the ice cream I bought myself …win-win right?) Anyways, doing nice things for people when they don’t expect it is awesome because you get to take part in the joy and appreciation they feel! There are no negative thoughts/feelings associated with doing something nice for no reason, just a lot of thinking about why you appreciate them and feeling great because of how you made them feel! Also keep in mind that the important thing isn’t a grand gesture, but your intent behind it to let that person know that you see them and you notice how wonderful they are. (Thanks Jack Pearson) πŸ˜‰ <3 P.S. I’m a This Is Us addict…

Day 12: Share a good memory with 2 friends & reminisce about good times.

Okay, to be honest, I didn’t take the time to do this one for some reason. Okay, for one reason – talking on the phone for longer than 1 minute is super difficult as a stay-at-home mom! I DID spend some time working on plans for a girls trip to Denver with 5 of my closest life-long friends THIS SPRING, which will be an overload of reminiscing on good memories, having tons of “good times”, and creating more beautiful memories together! So, I counted that and am looking forward to it every day. <3 Just for fun, here’s a picture from our last “girls trip” a couple of years ago:

So, spending time in conversation (or even better in person) with friends that KNOW you, and that you have a long history of memories with, is SO beneficial to your mental & emotional health! The picture above just brings so many positive feelings of friendship & fun & a lifetime of “good times”. Even though these aren’t women that I now see every day because of where we all live, they are women that I grew up with and learned about life with and went through joy and heartache with, and connecting with people like that in your life is, in my opinion, one of the BEST ways to create joy in your life!

That is it for Days 7-12! Don’t forget to go back and read the Days 1-6 Reflections, and I’ll be posting my Days 13-18 Reflections soon!

*We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

Three Morning Essentials for This Momma

Hey there! How are your mornings going lately? Mine started to be a real downer, to the point where I did NOT want to get out of bed. I’m not sure if this is just postpartum hormones (do those count when your kid is almost one?), or just the normal “I have a preschooler that won’t quit” tiredness levels, but I DO know that I wanted to be done with dreading leaving my bed every morning!

So, I decided to come up with a game plan. I thought about why I might be feeling this way, and even had a conversation with a friend of mine who is a social worker, and realized that I’m still struggling with my transition from being a full-time working mom to a stay-at-home mom. (Even though this transition mostly happened a year ago when I went on maternity leave).

This is a struggle for me because I REALLY like to have a set plan and to feel that I am fulfilling a purpose with my day and with the work that I am doing. As a high-school teacher for the past 6 years, these two things were a given every day. Your life runs on a bell schedule, every class has a specific lesson plan, and even your after-school hours with your family have to be pretty well-planned in order to accomplish what needs to be done in the hours you have left once you’re home! Teaching is a very meaningful and purposeful career, (even though not always encouraging- that’s a different story), you always know in the back of your mind that what you are doing matters. Even if it is only acknowledged by a couple of students now, the rest will realize it later.

As a stay-at-home mom, however, no one is telling me when and how to do things! I don’t have a boss. (Besides my kids) but their style of leadership would probably be considered insane. I don’t have a set schedule unless I make one for myself, but even then, no one is around to say “Great job!” when I stick to it! (I also realized I appreciate verbal affirmation which isn’t common for 4-year-olds and 11-month-olds to give out). Obviously being a stay-at-home mom has a purpose, and I am so grateful to be with them, but being with the same two little humans day in and day out, and completing the same household chores day in and day out can be…whatever the opposite of stimulating is…

So, I tried to think of some things I could do right away in the mornings that would give me that extra kick, and fortunately, over the past several weeks, (when I follow through and use them), I have found that the following 3 “items” really help to give me some motivation to get “up and at ’em” (’em being my children) πŸ™‚

*This post contains affiliate links.

Here you go! Hope these give you some options and ideas to give your mornings a kick-start as well!

1.A Fun Planner

My current goal is to open my planner every night and every morning. Even just glancing over the week and the different activities gives me a semi-plan for the next day. I love how my planner has my “top three” things to take care of each day. I try to not plan these out ahead of time, but to add them each night based on what I need to get done the next day. This also gives me a little bit of motivation for the day because I can “schedule in” some me-time, or some time to work on my blog. Doing this helps me feel organized, and I have specific tasks & goals to accomplish each day. Even if they’re not things I actually enjoy, they are still something to “look forward” to in the mundane stretch of being in the house all day! Even if all I accomplish are those top three things, I still feel like I did something because it is documented! πŸ™‚

And something extra – one thing I’ve been trying to add to my planning routine is writing down a way that I can serve someone that day. This really gives me something to look forward to, because doing something for someone else brings even more joy than doing something for yourself!

I found this planner at Aldi for super cheap obviously, because Aldi rocks, but if you missed that one, here’s one that looks very similar on Amazon: Blue Sky Day Planner

2.A Pretty Coffee Mug

My friend Heather bought this beautiful mug for our MOPS Christmas mug exchange and I was the lucky one to get it! It has pretty flowers painted on the outside and even on the inside! It also has a Bible verse (Lamentations 3:22-23) that reminds me of the beauty of God’s grace & mercy in each new day. This “morning essential” is encouraging on those tough days when you are really dragging! And if you aren’t motivated by the pretty cup, the caffeine it contains should give you a jump-start. πŸ˜‰ Here it is if you want one: Mug-His Mercies Are New Every Morning

*My only downside with this mug is that it is smaller than the average coffee-mug, but I don’t mind refilling my cup, OR just sticking to an actual cup of coffee in the morning instead of 2 or 3 like many mugs hold these days. I measured it against one of the “average-sized” coffee mugs and it holds 8 oz with room to stir vs. the majority of my coffee cups which hold 12-16 oz. with room to stir. (This also stops me from adding so much extra creamer!)

3.A Coloring Bible & Colored Pencils

I’m counting this as one “item” because one doesn’t fully work without the other. This is my new favorite thing when I want to meditate on a verse! This Beautiful Word Coloring Bible has lots of “coloring pages” that are Bible verses in pretty scripts and fonts.Β  If you like to color or draw, this can be a great stress-reliever, but also can help with memorizing verses and meditating on them throughout the day. Here are theΒ Prismacolor Premier Colored Pencils I ordered, just a warning they are very soft which makes shading possible, and is helpful because the Bible pages aren’t super thick like normal paper. You definitely need a pencil sharpener too because the soft pencils wear down more quickly.

Waking up early so that I have time to sit and read my Bible has always been difficult for me, but when I can color on the pages as I read, I’ve found that it really helps me feel more motivated to start. This sounds terrible because obviously spending time in conversation with God should be my priority, but again, this has been a struggle when I’m exhausted, so I’m doing what I can to just get to that point where I am at the table with my Bible open. Another cool thing about this is that it is really interesting and engages my daughter when she sees me, so I’m modeling that habit for her as well.

<3

And that’s it! Sitting down with my planner, a cup of coffee in my favorite mug and my Coloring Bible gives me a chance to do something I enjoy, relax, connect with God and take a moment to think about my priorities for the day, before the chaos of motherhood ensues! πŸ™‚

 

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.

30-Day Be More Positive Challenge: Days 1-6 Reflections

A couple of weeks ago I sent a message to the other women who help lead women’s ministry at our church and asked them to pray for me: “I’m so tired, Levi won’t sleep through the night still, all I want to do is stay in bed all day. I don’t feel motivated to get up in the mornings. I’m in a really down and negative state of mind a majority of the time. I’m also feeling a lot more anxious than normal. Please pray for me.” I don’t know if you’ve been in that place (it isn’t always because of a baby), but it is really difficult to break that cycle of negativity.

Especially since becoming a mom, I’ve had to learn to handle a lot of anxiety, and even some depression. I suffered from post-partum anxiety after my daughter was born, which was alleviated by anti-anxiety meds. However, while I was on them I miscarried a baby, and could not get myself to continue taking them after that. I then suffered from post-partum depression, was eventually diagnosed with secondary infertility (which was unexplained), finally was able to become pregnant again, and had a healthy baby boy! At this point (after a lot of support from friends and family, and prayer), I finally felt like I was in a place where I had my negative thoughts and anxiety under control. I was at a point where I could distinguish my crazy thoughts from reality. During these several years, my go-to verse has been 2 Corinthians 10:5 – We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ:

(Thank you YouVersion Bible App for the Image!)

This, along with staying in prayer & conversation with God throughout the day, is a HUGE comfort, and brings me a lot of peace, especially during times of intense anxiety. Committing my thoughts to Christ allows me to recognize what is going on inside of my head as set apart from reality; which of my thoughts are coming from a place of fear and pain, instead of confidence in the goodness of God.

However, over the last several months when I have only been sleeping for 2 to 4 hour stretches at a time, (Yes, with a child that is almost ONE!) it becomes much more difficult for me to maintain that daily commitment to taking the time to read the Bible, and taking the time to pray. This ends up just spiraling to the point where I am texting my friends asking for THEM to pray FOR me!

So one of these friends, who works in the mental health field, calls me to encourage me during this time and gives me the suggestion of doing a 30-Day Positivity Challenge. *Sigh* One more thing to do, right? Again, this is coming from a place of exhaustion and negativity. But I tell her that sure, she can send me the link and I’ll check it out. Here is the Challenge she sent me (That this post is based on!) It is called the 30-Day Be More Positive Challenge.

What I really liked about this was that each day was just a short, simple suggestion. “I can handle that.” I thought. Then, while thinking about it I realized that I usually don’t follow through with this sort of thing. So, I decided to BLOG about it! I knew that once I posted the first day, I would have to follow through and post one every day, so if you are reading this, thank you for being that motivation to keep going through these challenges!

In honor of REALLY doing this Challenge, here are my reflections on each day of the challenge so far. (Days 1-6):

Day 1: For every worst case scenario you think of, imagine the best thing that could happen.

This was actually a HUGE help for me, and I’m glad this came on Day 1 because it helped motivate me to do this challenge. Worst case scenarios are kind of my thing. My husband is always a little in awe of the things I come up with that could happen in any normal, everyday situation.Β  Here is an example:

Brandon: I’m going to take Joy to get some ice cream.

My brain: Should I let them go? What if he crashes the car and I lose half of my family in one afternoon?

Now, to someone without anxiety this sounds made up, but its the first thing I thought. So once I recognized that was a worst case scenario, I instead said to myself:

What if they have a really fun time, Joy gets to have a special memory with her daddy, and I get a break for an hour from having two kids with me?

Woohoo! Success for Day 1. This stopped me from feeling anxious and wasting my free time worrying and allowed me to enjoy some one-on-one time with Levi.

Day 2: Spend 5 minutes imagining your dream life, & write down what steps you need to take to get there.

Day 2 is something that I actually did when I started this blog, but it was nice to just think about the things that I want for myself and for my family in the future. Some of the things from my “dream life” include being able to travel, doing missions work, having more kids and/or adopting a child. It also includes living somewhere warm! Our most important step to make it there is to make good financial decisions, pay off all of our student-loans & mortgage & be debt free! On a smaller “step” scale, we are going to only eat out once or twice a week. (This still might seem like a lot to some people, but this is one of our biggest struggles financially! We don’t buy random things, we buy food)

This practice is helpful because it helps you to look beyond the struggles & irritations of today. Instead of dwelling on the negatives and picturing miserable outcomes, you see that best version of your life and work to start creating it! For me, being able to pray over those things is vital too. Obviously, you don’t always get what you pray for πŸ™‚ but God knows the desires of your heart, and I think that praying for His glory in all of it allows him to reveal his plans for you to bring Him glory in ways you never imagined.

Day 3: Do 3 things to cut negativity out of your life. Unfollow, delete, & remove negative feelings from your life.

I took this from more of a “social media” standpoint, and went through my Instagram & Facebook and unfollowed anyone who consistently posts things that make me feel anxious or create negative feelings. This is something that I try to stay on top of anyways, so it did not take long. This is not to completely shield yourself from reality, but when you are already anxious about irrational things, it doesn’t help to read crazy or super negative news stories or horror stories online. So that is something I don’t do!

Some funny things I did get rid of in my home that made me feel negative were some workout DVDs and at-home workout equipment. I NEVER use it, we don’t even own a DVD player, and every time I saw it I just felt negative and guilty about not using it like I had planned. Now it is gone, I don’t feel negative, instead, I use that energy to get myself to the gym (with free childcare) for some free time & exercise.

Day 4: Have lunch with someone you admire, or someone you run into today.

This one was easy because I already had lunch plans with someone I admire! My friend Katie is someone who gives her heart & soul to the youth in the area as a director for Youth For Christ’s Campus Life. She is bringing light & life in Christ to kids who are seeking something bigger than themselves, many times hurting, and at a crucial stage in their lives! She is passionate, fun, encouraging, honest, and real! She is a friend who checks in, builds you up, helps you find your strengths, but is there when you need someone to talk through the tough stuff. She even teaches me house renovation tricks because I am helpless with tools. She also loves & encourages my kids! We went to Chili’s for the amazing chips & salsa, and little Levi even joined us. (I admire him for obvious reasons). <3

Going to lunch with someone you admire might be a big step for some people, but maybe even just having a conversation with them can be an encouragement. When you’re feeling negative and/or anxious, looking outside of yourself and caring about someone else’s life can be uplifting because it stops you from caving in and only focusing on your own life. You probably admire people for good reason, and they most likely have an ability to be encouraging to you in a way that you can’t do as well for yourself right now!

Day 5: Choose a positive mantra for the day. Google a mantra if you can’t think of one.

Mantras always seemed kind of weird to me, but in the spirit of committing to this challenge, I decided to go for it. I googled a few, and wanted something light & fun so I chose, “I don’t sweat the small stuff.” Because I DO sweat the small stuff, and it was a mental state I wanted to change. So throughout the day, every time I thought “Ugh, why is life so HARD!” instead I said, “That’s ok because I don’t sweat the small stuff!” And then I convinced myself that it was no big deal, dealt with it quickly, and moved on. For example, getting poop on my hands while changing a diaper, my preschooler peeing her pants because she wanted to keep playing instead of running to the bathroom really quickly, forgetting the diaper bag at a friend’s house. ETC.

Day 6: Give a genuine compliment to 3 people.

Again, the focus here is not ourselves, but others! Looking out is essential in finding positive mental health. When we seek and find the good in others, we are better able to find it in ourselves as well. This isn’t something that always comes naturally though as we go about our day in a rush. This one required me to slow down a bit, actually look the people around me in the face, recognize what they were doing, and point out the great things to them! Most of mine on this day were more surface compliments like, “I like your haircut!” or “Cute jacket!”, but in the future, I definitely am looking for opportunities to point out things I love about my friends in regard to their actions or character. I also am seeking out opportunities to compliment my kids & husband especially! This is something that needs to be done constantly with the people closest to you. I think it lets them know you are not taking them for granted, and that you truly appreciate the small things they do for you. <3

Okay, that is it for now! Hopefully, this was encouraging or helpful to you in some way! If you want to read more about this challenge check out my Reflections on Days 7-12! Also, check out some more of my suggestions that have helped me with my struggles to get out of bed in the mornings: Three Morning Essentials for this Momma

With Joy,

Alyssa

5 Re-calibrations in the New Year – This More Than That

Welcome! I decided that my first post in 2018 (and ever) should be something to motivate myself to have a better year. SO here we go…Instead of coming up with some new (or old) resolutions that I will ditch pretty quickly, I decided to choose 5 things that I wanted to do “more than” others. So basically this allows me to “re-calibrate” my habits and work more of the positive elements into my life without just expecting myself to completely cut out things that are probably not realistic, based on my free time & energy levels with a four year old & a 10 month old! “Bringing Up” Joy is not always simple, but maybe these things can help!

Here are the five I came up with in no particular order of importance:

1. Encourage more than Criticize

I spend a lot of time criticizing others and myself. A lot of times it is in my head only, if I can keep my mouth shut. I tend to be kind of pessimistic sometimes (Thank you God for an idealist/optimist husband) and I often will see the negatives in a situation, or a person, yikes, before I recognize the positives. However, when I take the time to encourage the people in my life, I feel more relaxed, and more encouraged myself! The people in my life (husband, children, friends) also feel better about themselves. Creating an environment in our home where my husband & kids have a positive self-image builds up their confidence & willingness to try new things, and to be the best version of themselves. They also encourage me back! For example, the more of an effort I make to compliment my daughter on the little things, the more she compliments me.

2. Cook more than Eat Out

Okay, so this one might sound SUPER easy, but the real idea behind this in my head is that if I could make a meal in the same amount of time(or less) than it would take me to drive out and buy something, then I need to suck it up and just cook. It is frustrating to me that this is even difficult because I actually really enjoy cooking, but when I want junk food, I WANT it. Now. This is kind of a way for me to justify NOT going to get the food because I can slowly begin to see how simple it is to just cook something at home. This “more than” also encourages me to meal plan because then I don’t allow for the opportunity to get sucked into those cravings. One extra tip – I’ve been working one “take-out” meal into my meal plan each week so that in my head I can say okay, just wait until Wednesday, then you can get that food you want, but tonight, cook what you ALREADY paid for that is sitting in your fridge.

3. Exercise more than Watch TV

Exercise was becoming really difficult for me to accomplish because I either had to go workout really early in the morning before my husband left for work, or really late at night after the kids were in bed. Option A: Too tired, Option B: Too tired. Fail. SO I broke down and joined the YMCA even though it costs more than a normal gym membership. BUT when you have kids it is SO WORTH IT because you get TWO HOURS of FREE childcare every day! What?! I’m not going to lie, after my friend Sarah told me about this brilliant system, I took her advice, and a couple of times, I just dropped off my kids, went and sat in the sauna, hot tub, sauna, etc. and then went and took a shower and blow-dried my hair. No exercise. Oops. Anyways, the point of this one should be obvious. Exercise is better for you than binge-watching TV. However – again the reason this says “more than” and not “instead of” – I’m TIRED at night and sometimes I just need to relax my brain and watch something funny. Or emotional, like This Is Us, and then I cry my eyes out and get a good night’s sleep and feel less tired! Win-win. Probably. But when I watch TV I think okay, I really need to keep this under an hour so I don’t have to exercise for MORE than an hour tomorrow. Make sense?

4. Pray more than Worry

My #momlife is actually my #worrylife. Anyone else? Ugh. There are so many things to worry about! This is pretty much a daily struggle. I over-think, over-analyze, and over-criticize every decision I make. I also imagine every possible negative outcome of anything I do. I envy my husband on the daily as he walks through life seeing all the good in everyone and everything. Anything can be scary if you think about it too much. On the flip-side (do people still say that?) you can also pray about anything, and God will give you peace about it! I used to not really believe that and just start worrying about why I didn’t pray about it and worry that if I tried it might not help ETC… but if you are willing to really give over your anxieties to Him there is so much peace and confidence in knowing that you are going to be ok. (This could be a long aside – summary – obviously bad and terrible things can and will happen, but I can be confident in my relationship with Christ and eternally I will be with Him, and that is what matters.) I have a really amazing friend named Holly, and every time I tell her about a situation that brings me anxiety she says “did you pray about it?” and I’m like NO, LEAVE ME ALONE, I’m trying to complain here! …but then I do pray and I’m like what was my fear again? (Side note – I have suffered from post-partum anxiety in the past, this section is NOT talking about that intense level of anxiety, please seek the help of a medical professional in that situation! Yes, obviously pray also, but chemical imbalances are real and can be treated in different ways as well!)

5. Cuddle more than Nag

My husband is a cuddler. I am not. So honestly this is not the easiest for me, but I have found that I can bring up my “to-do list” as many times as I want, write it on the wall, etc. and it just causes frustration. However, in those moments when I want to remind my husband of all the things he is NOT doing, if I go cuddle with him (connect, talk, check in with him etc.-find what works for you), I remember all of the things he IS doing, and HAS done, and CONSISTENTLY does for me and our family that make our lives wonderful. Again, I’m not saying don’t ever remind your guy what needs to be done, I’m just saying that maybe meeting him where he’s at sometimes and appreciating him will go a lot further in your own heart and mind and lead to more understanding (and maybe more getting done on your list) than nagging would.

 

Okay that’s it! Hopefully some part of this was helpful to you! The point here is doing the one thing MORE THAN the other and it will slowly (hopefully) become an integral part of your life.

What things do you think might be good to do more than others this year! Please share in the comments!

With Joy,

Alyssa