The Five to Thrive

I have recently completed Girl Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis.  If you haven’t read Girl Wash Your Face or Girl Stop Apologizing, you should.  She is a real woman just telling it like it is and baring it all.  She is not only easy to relate to, but raw and funny.  With all of that being said, she also gives some great tips on how to be a better version of yourself along with proving by her success that she has applied them to her own life.  I have always applied these five things in my life, but never considered or seen them grouped together as a sort of mantra for life.  Once I did I was hooked on the concept.  These five rules are great for everyone, especially those of you who are just dipping your toe into the idea of where in the world to start on the path to self improvement.

The five rules include, getting up an hour earlier than you normally do and use that time for yourself, workout at least 30 minutes a day, drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day, give up one food category you know you shouldn’t be eating, and finally, write down 10 things that you are grateful for each day.  I have been practicing this list for a while and steadily adding to it with other ideas that help me keep my life better organized, healthy and productive.

When it comes to getting up an hour earlier, this one was the biggest struggle, but also the holy grail to everything else in my life.  I am able to get so much stuff done before I even sit down at my desk at work by accomplishing this one rule.  I get up and go at 5 a.m. and I use another rule from another great book, The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins, to make this happen each day.  I also have an incredible morning routine programmed into my mind and body so I don’t allow myself to think about any other options (like staying in my warm, cozy bed another 30 minutes).  I jump up, wash my face, and put on my workout clothes and grab my gym bag.  I make myself a warm travel mug of lemon water and grab a bottle of water for after my workout.   I always listen an audio book on my drive to the gym.  This is when rule number two comes in to play.

I do a 30 minute workout and then I get changed and ready for my work day.  I always arrive early to work and usually I allow myself one cup of coffee while I finish my water from my workout and I usually have a granola bar and a piece of fruit for breakfast.  I get the office opened up and ready for the day and then I sit at my desk before anyone else arrives and I write, check emails and social media.  Once that is complete I start my work for the day.  When lunch time rolls around I have usually already had about half of the recommended water required to meet half my body weight.  When it comes to lunch, sometimes I bring my lunch to work and sometimes I have lunch with friends and coworkers or just grab something and go sit at the park and read.  The food groups I have removed from my diet include any and all sweets and soda’s.  I do my best to make my meals primarily veggies, fruits and a lean protein, I love fish!

On my way home from work I listen to my audio book or sometimes some music to motivate me if I have a lot I want to get done when I get home.  It is about a 30-45 minute drive for me and I hate not being productive while driving.  Once I arrive home I usually tackle everything I need to do to prepare for the next morning, laundry, making my lunch, getting my gym bag packed, then I eat dinner, shower, skin care and take time to review my calendar for the next day so I have mental game plan.  Then I crawl onto the center of my bed and take the time to be thankful, pray and meditate.  On Friday nights, if I am not making it a date night, I usually tackle some kind of household project.  This week it is my personal walk-in closet.  I usually start a project on a Friday evening while am watching one of my favorite Netflix shows and I try my best to finish the project before noon Saturday.  Lately I have been helping my significant other at his restaurant on Saturday nights and I value my Sundays as a day of rest, relaxation and time with those I love.

Building these routines and habits into my life has brought me a sense of comfort, confidence and happiness.  I love feeling organized, efficient, productive, and healthy and I have found a way to work all of the things that are most important to me into my daily life.  What habits or routines do you value in your life?

With love, health and happiness,

Stacy

Psychological Warfare

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Watching the news, reading social media feeds, and internet headlines, realizing some of my family and friends have drastically different views on politics, religion and many other values, morals, and beliefs is enough to make a person just want to crawl in a hole and cover it with a rock.  As I navigate my day as the office manager of a busy private practice counseling center while completing my master degree in mental health counseling and working weekends as a bartender at a busy restaurant and doing my best to be a good single mom to a teenage daughter, I can tell you one thing….I have learned how important it is to know where you stand.  I am a researcher, a naturally curious person and pretty open minded when it comes to new thoughts, ideas and theories in the beginning and will allow myself time to learn more before coming to my own conclusion.  In that time I will process the views of others and take it all into consideration as I continue my research.  I like to believe that most people approach new information this way, but I am realistic enough and have seen and heard enough in the practice of counseling to know its not true in all cases.

The fact is we all will see, read and encounter thoughts and ideas that challenge us to our core.  I believe that in every situation there is a choice, the choice is really simple, to look at it from a positive opportunity for growth or to allow it to turn negative.  When I say growth, I don’t mean accept and learn from the actual information in front of you necessarily, because the fact is sometimes we just know the information will never align with our belief systems and research would be an absolute waste of time.  What I mean by an opportunity for growth, even in those obvious situations where you know you will not change your mind, is how you choose to proceed in the situation, how you mentally choose to process and deal with it?  Everything we consume through our senses in daily life effects our body on a deeper level, not just the food and drink, not just the physical activity, but what we read, watch, listen to and write out.  So ask yourself, how good are you being to your mind, body and soul when you take all of that into consideration?

We often hear about parents protecting their children from bad influences of social media, too much screen time, keeping them away from bad influences of other kids and encouraging them to eat right, exercise and don’t do drugs or smoke or drink.  Don’t you find it a bit ironic how many of those things we decide to bring in to our own lives after preaching the opposite to our kids.  The truth is, all of those things do not just stop being bad for you once you become an adult.  We learn we can’t punch Tommy in the face and call him a stupid liar on the playground at school just because he said there is no Santa Claus.  Yet, too many times I see adults calling each other names on social media or the news.  What kind of examples are we setting for our kids?  I understand it is impossible to protect our children from everything and honestly I have no desire to protect my child from it all, how else will she learn?  I want to help guide her and learn what it all means and how to process it in a logical and healthy way.

Shit happens….we lose games, we make bad grades, you get a speeding ticket, or someone you like doesn’t like you back, a friend may talk about you behind your back, families break-up, you didn’t get the part in the play, you may not get accepted into the college of your dreams, you may not have enough money to have, do and see all the things you wish you could in life….you know what this is called?  Life and we are all in it together.  Life is full of choices, maybe you are not responsible for exactly where you are right now, but maybe your parents are, or your grandparents.  The truth is we are all the result of life before us and the big world keeps on turning and producing the next generation.  The point is, there will be a point when you do get to decide for yourself.  How we choose to see the world around us is so important but even more important is how you see yourself in the world around you.  If you had to describe yourself in ten words what words would you choose?  Are they positive and strong or angry and negative.  Do you look at the life dealt to you and fully embrace it and look for the opportunities to be and do better or do you wallow in it and make excuses and blame others?  The mental part of life is the toughest part of life, it will make you or break you.

Negativity is like a cancer, and recent studies show it is actually linked to diseases within the body.  When you are feeling ill you need to consider not only changing what you eat and drink or how often you exercise, but also what you are choosing to read and watch and listen to and how you respond to the world around you.  Create a psychological health habit just like you would habits for diet and exercise.  Don’t allow yourself to consume junk mentally and when it does cross your path, make a choice to process it from a healthier perspective.  It is a proven fact that stress is one of the leading causes of disease in the body and most stress is caused by how we respond to the world around us.  It is time for a little psychological warfare on the negative vibes being put out into the world.  You can give to the needy, work at a soup kitchen, volunteer for great causes, but if you really want to give back to the greater good teach yourself and your children how to accept life as a gift, tackle it with excitement and be thankful every day for the little things in life and most of all learn to respond with love and kindness.  If you are about to respond ask yourself three important questions…. Is it true?  Is it necessary?  Is it kind?

With love, health, happiness and positive mental health,

Stacy

Your 5 People

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It has been said that you adopt the behaviors, habits and thoughts of the 5 people you hang around the most.  So stop and think for a minute…does this thought make you feel proud or panicked?  Honestly?  It made me a little worried when I thought about it. I am forced to spend time with some people, family or coworkers,  and if I am so busy that I am not getting much time with friends I value and admire then I may be absorbing some aspects of others I don’t really care to have in my life.  I felt the need to tip the scale a bit more in my favor by making time for those people who really motivate and inspire me to be a better version of myself.

Have you ever met a person and the conversation flows so easily and every topic lights a fire in your soul because you can relate to their perspective so easily?  Or maybe the person who just throws out a perspective that you have never considered before and suddenly you are asking rapid fire questions to learn more about where their thoughts and ideas come from and how you can learn more?  Is there a person in your world that you are in awe of their career, their relationships, their style, their looks, or financial gains?  Why not ask them how they do it?  You think these people got their without asking questions or being on the learning end of the spectrum at some point?  I think the world today has created a bunch of competitors and that can be great up to a point…those failing points are when competition becomes a game where everyone thinks they should win no matter the effort and the other fail is when people become so competitive they refuse to learn from others because they think they can do it all on their own.  Those two extreme ends of the spectrum will create a monster.  As I often in say, balance is key.

Surrounding yourself with amazing people who are doing and succeeding better than you is actually a win for you.  Learn to be humble, accept the fact that you really should not always be the smartest person in the room and if you are, you are doing yourself a great disservice.  I grew up in a household where not knowing was a weakness and shameful.  My Dad would get so frustrated if he quizzed me and my brother on a subject and we didn’t know the answer.  It didn’t feel like a learning opportunity with gentle guidance, he just made us feel stupid.  So I learned to associate asking for help and not knowing the answer with being stupid and weak.  This has been one of the biggest struggles in my life, I always felt great embarrassment when it would come to admitting I didn’t know the answer and sometimes bigger embarrassment when I would not admit I didn’t know and just pushed through hoping no one would notice.  As I have gotten older and went through raising a child of my own, my perspective on this subject has drastically changed.

I have asked myself who the top five people are in my life right now that I feel could benefit me in my goals.  Some may say this is very selfish, to choose friends and relationships based on your selfish needs, but I strongly disagree.  You can have people in your life that you love and respect for exactly who they are and not want anything from them and especially not want to be anything like them, but that is rare.  We are naturally attracted to people who we can see qualities that we value in ourselves or qualities we wish we had.  Those people are the ones you should be making more time for.  Do not be afraid to admit you do not know things, ask questions, look for people you admire, find yourself a mentor in areas that you are interested in learning.  My mother often would say “birds of a feather flock together”.  As a teen and young adult I thought that phrase was kind of dumb because I knew I was hanging out with some bad influences and believed I was the “good girl” in the group.  I thought I would be the one they would come to for advice on life and maybe even influence them in a positive way….but the opposite happened. We may think we are stronger than we actually are, over time some negative relationships and people will change us whether we want to change or not.  Be aware of co-workers or friends who constantly share their negativity and find a nice way to remove yourself from their vent sessions.

At the end of the day, everyone needs a little motivation and support to stay on track, make sure your home team is one you are proud of.

With love, health, happiness with a supportive top 5,

Stacy

Can you be alone?

I have noticed in my life that many people struggle with being alone.  It has always been strange to me, even since I was a kid, about 10 years old, I can remember spending hours alone outside exploring or in my bedroom reading a book.  I wasn’t being neglected, my parents would check on me every once in a while, and that was enough.  I was not a clingy or needy kid and I have never been as an adult either.  When I see these needy adults I instantly think, man you must have drove your parents crazy with your inability to be alone.  Not all people struggle with this and not all people have had the inability to be alone since childhood, but I would say for most, it started there.

I am a loner in many areas of my life.  I don’t like group exercise, I prefer to go for long walks or jogs alone because, first of all, I prefer to listen to an audiobook, pod cast or music and not talk to another human.  Second, it just helps me clear my head of my problems and usually when I am talking with others it is problems that get brought up.  I also don’t like to work in close quarters with others, I like to have my own office with a do not disturb sign on the door where I can shut myself off from the rest of the world when I am working.  I am not a person who needs a lot of supervision, I am easily motivated and good at sticking to timelines and when I am in my zone and being productive, I do not like interruptions.  When I get home from a long day I sometimes make plans for dinner and drinks with others, but there are days I just want to go home and be alone.  I can decompress by watching Grey’s Anatomy, eating dinner with a glass of wine and then go through my evening routine of before bed, maybe even listen to a meditation.  I don’t need conversation because it seems I have constant conversation going on in my own mind and the only way to shut it off it to get myself in a meditative state.

I have a friend who is in her mid-twenties and she thinks I am just weird.  She texts me on a regular basis and asks me what I am up to for the evening and I will just tell her I am home and not really feeling like going out.  She seems to go out every night of the week and always makes a point to invite me.  This friend works just as many hours as I do and yes, there is a 17 year difference in our age and I also have a teenager and go to school on top of my job, but I really do not think any of that is the deciding factor.  My friend hates to be alone, she openly admits it, like to the point she is scared to go home to her house sometimes when her husband is out of town.  This is just mind blowing to me because I am super excited when I have the house all to myself!

I have a man in my life and he is 10 years older than me.  I stay at his place maybe 3 nights a week and he is a lot like me when it comes to being alone.  We have a really great relationship that allows for time away from each other to pursue things of interest that may not interest each other.  We also are capable of being in the same house, even in the same room, and feel a completely comfortable silence.  I have friends who are incapable of this as well.  So what makes some people feel this overwhelming need to fill the space between themselves and others, between themselves and silence?  What are you really afraid of when you are afraid of being alone?  What is the worst case scenario that could occur when you are alone?  Are you a person who just needs others to entertain you because you are incapable of entertaining yourself?   Maybe you are an extrovert who just thrives on social interaction and it makes you feel good.  Then there are those who literally feel thoughts of sadness, neglect, fear and depression if they spend too much time alone….and these individuals are the ones who need to get to the root of the issue.

If you start messaging friends before you get off work to make plans so that you do not have to go home alone and you stay out late so that when you do get home you can just go straight to bed and avoid actually feeling alone, then you need to ask yourself why?  When you are alone are you constantly on your phone scrolling through social media, or texting or calling someone to interact with another person?  Can you actually be in your own space and watch a movie, read a book, take a bubble bath, or any number of other things and just be comfortable in your own company?  I think everyone should practice doing this, not just for a few hours at a time but actually an entire day.  I think you need to force yourself to spend an entire day just doing you.  Have you ever went to a restaurant and ate lunch or dinner alone?  Have you ever ran all kinds of errands or went shopping without someone tagging along?  Have you been home all day and not just when you are sick, but just went through making yourself breakfast, watched a little TV, cleaned house, read a book, planted some flowers, cleaned out the fridge….whatever you have been planning to do and just enjoyed a productive day all to yourself?  Have you ever taken a trip by yourself, where you were forced to be alone or just interact with total strangers for the day?  If you haven’t done these things, then you should.  I will tell you, it is a growth process that creates more confidence in yourself.

We are all human and human interaction is necessary for humans to be truly happy.  Relationships are definitely the most important thing we will ever have in our lives.  However, when it comes to relationships, the most important one you will ever have is the one you will have with yourself.  Cultivate that relationship, ask yourself the hard questions when it comes to your fears, habits, and needs.  Force yourself out of your comfort zone a little bit by doing more things on your own and allowing yourself to just depend on yourself.  Being alone is not a bad thing, it is freedom, a time to heal, a time to grow, creates independence, encourages productivity and creativity, a time to reflect, contemplate, brainstorm, and just give yourself some love instead of everyone else.  Embrace being alone.

With love, health, happiness, and a little alone time,

Stacy

 

 

 

Are You A Goal-Getter?

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When I think about my goals I can easily list off 5 or 6 that I am currently working on in my own life.  So, needless to say, I was surprised when I realized that some people just float through life without ever setting any goals.  A goal is different from a dream, you can dream of doing big things in life and still not be a goal oriented person.  The difference between a goal and a dream is the action behind the goal.  I remember being more of a dreamer when I was younger and made excuses for not taking action because I had a fear of failure.  Well, I have news for you, if you never take action, that fear never goes away. You just spend the rest of your life letting that fear own you.  I think most would agree, to try and fail is better than to never have tried at all.

So when I think about the many self-improvement and motivational books, articles, and speakers who have shared great knowledge of how to tackle and achieve goals there are a few bits that really stood out for me.  First of all, I think a lot of people are more dreamers than doers when they are young, and for the same reason I was, fear.  This fear is not just from a fear of failure though, the simple fact is, we don’t fully know and understand who we are yet.  In more than one of the many books and articles I have studied it states, most people really do not come to a deeper understanding and comfort in their own skin until about the age of 40.  I just turned 41 in December of last year and I would have to say I agree with this theory.

When we are young we go through different relationships and experiences, we change our majors multiple times or maybe completely drop out of college, and the whole time we are deciding what we like and don’t like.  The more we learn, the more we understand what dreams are worthy of making into goals.  Many of us make the mistake of starting out living other peoples dreams for us, we rush into marriage and having babies before asking ourselves if this is really something we are ready for, or we go to college to be a doctor or lawyer because that is what our parents want for us.  Maybe you just graduate and take over the family business or go work at the local factory because that is what the generations before you did.  Living out other peoples dreams becomes automatic and we sometimes forget we have a choice in the matter.  I think this happened a lot more with those of us who lived before cell phones and social media because we were not fully aware of all of our options.  We were environmentally conditioned to think and be a certain way and if we did think outside the box we were often made to feel bad about it.  Now, it is a whole different ballgame!

My daughter just turned 18 this year and she is aware, overwhelmingly aware, of all of her options.  The sky is the limit and she can go anywhere and be anything; and if she wants to learn more about a certain place, person or thing she can research it to exhaustion and decide if it is worth her time or not.  Because let’s face it, when working towards a goal, time is of the essence.  Prioritizing your time when going to school, working full time, and trying to make times for loved ones, exercise, and working on personal goals means that every minute counts.  I have done my best to encourage my daughter to weigh her options and explore different paths and do not allow herself to get locked in to anyone else’s way of thinking.  I think this can happen a lot with new high school graduates.  They decide to go to the same college together with friends or a boyfriend/girlfriend, or some go straight into a job to earn money and those who don’t get the immediate job get tempted by the factory job because their friend has a car and spending money on the weekends.  I see this thought process with a lot of kids in the small town where I grew up and currently in the town where my daughter is graduating.  Do not allow yourself to get sucked in to the right now and end up stuck in a job you hate or a town you never intended to stay in.  There is a whole world out there waiting for you to explore!

Understanding yourself should be your primary goal because once you learn yourself it opens the door to all other goals and opportunities.  Do not float through life on auto-pilot living a life that does not bring you joy and fulfillment.  Ask yourself what dreams you have that you can put action behind and make a plan to do it.  Even if its just to get in better shape and you go for a 30 minute walk, three times a week after dinner then that went from a dream to a goal because you are now doing something about it.  If you want to be a writer, I have always heard to be a good writer you have to read as much as you write, so if you want to be a good writer you need to be reading and/or writing something every. single. day.  Decide what you like and don’t like and do not let another person’s opinions shape that decision.  Being a goal-getter is a bit of a selfish process and that is okay.  Once you start making time for those goals your life will begin to change for the better and those who support you and the life you love will stay and those who don’t will fade away.  Goals are life changing and necessary for growth.  If you are feeling stuck, unhappy or even down-right depressed then it is time to ask yourself what goals are you working toward right now?  A life without goals is not living, it is simply just existing.

With love, health, happiness and a whole list of goals,

Stacy

Beautiful: Inside & Out

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Is the goal today to look like we haven’t aged at all?  Do we all really want to stay forever young?  I understand the desire to age gracefully and to create healthy habits in order to have a long and fulfilling life, but at what point do we take those simple desires and distort them into something else?  Is there a line that can be crossed?  Yes, I believe so, but I realize that line is different for each individual.  

I turned 41 in December in of last year and I have fully come to the realization that I am going to have to start putting forth a little extra effort when it comes to staying fit and looking fresh.  Long gone are the days of skipping lunch and going for a quick jog to bring my weight in check.  I have to make more changes more often to drop that extra few pounds.  Also, long gone are the days of a quick splash of water on my face, light moisturizer and lip gloss before I head out the door.  My beauty routine was once very low maintenance and it has definitely upgraded over the years.

I have watched people in entertainment get face-lifts, lip injections, butt implants, Botox, fillers, lipo-suction, permanent make-up and lets not forget the many different skin care products and diet and exercise programs promoted.  It would be easy to spend every last penny of your paycheck on just looking good.  It is also scary to look at some celebrities who have completely ruined themselves with the massive efforts to fight age.  So how do you really make the choices of what is worth investing in for long term benefits without ending up looking like a completely different person or a freak of nature?  

I am a researcher and like to study, I will devour articles from multiple websites, magazines and other resources to find out information on different beauty products and procedures that interest me.  I have come to find a routine that works and I feel comfortable with.  First of all, sleep, exercise and water are your best friends no matter what age you are.  Getting a good nights sleep, drinking a large glass of water upon waking and 30 minutes of cardio is how I start my day.  Then I jump into a warm shower, loofah & shave and after, I always moisturize.  My skin care routine involves eye cream, moisturizer, and vitamin C oil for the day and eye cream, moisturizer and Retin A cream at night.  I use a very light cleanser that removes my makeup and a toner to help prepare the skin before I apply the anti-aging products.  I also brush my teeth twice a day and floss every night.  Yes, I believe dental care can effect the aging process.

I drink lots of water and try to fill my plate with mostly fruits and veggies three times a day.  I have recently cut out between meal snacks because I tend to over eat when snacking.  I do eat meat but mostly fish, I love eggs and I try to moderate my dairy and grains.  I definitely see the benefits of a vegetarian diet when it comes to health and anti-aging but I love life and want to enjoy and not feel deprived in any area so I just practice balance and moderation.  I do drink alcohol, but I am perfectly capable of having a couple of beers with pizza or a burger and be done.  A glass of wine with piece of fish and a salad is one of my favorite dinners!  Moderation is key!

When it comes to cosmetic procedures I am very new to this area.  I like the idea of looking fresh, but still natural and recognizable.  My doctor has explained that a great skin care routine is important along with diet and exercise and plenty of water, but at the end of the day you are still going to have laugh lines and wrinkles if you are enjoying life and spending any amount of time outdoors in the sun.  I love to be out in nature and as a natural redhead I have my share of little freckles and some degree of sun damage and wrinkles.  The Retin A process is great for peeling away the top layer of dead skin and after about of month of using this product you can see a more glowing and less lined and wrinkled face looking back at you in the mirror.  However, there are some deep forehead lines that were still hanging around and the only real fix is Botox.

I have not yet had my first Botox injection, but I plan to get it done in about a month.  I am focusing on just the forehead lines.  The doctor has explained that Botox just freshens your look, but when people start getting fillers they can start changing their look.  The decision to schedule Botox was not an easy one for me, I have contemplated it for some time and I admit, not only do I have fears of a reaction but I don’t want to seem superficial or shallow.  I know looks are not everything, but the end of the day, this is the only face and body I will ever have so I am going to invest in it.

Honestly, I like the way I look and do not want to completely transform my face.  Taking pride in how you look should start with your own happiness and self-esteem, but it can also be good for your relationship with your significant other.  When you take good care of your body with a healthy diet and exercise, along with taking extra steps to be beautiful for yourself, it is naturally going to cause your significant other to notice and appreciate the effort, maybe even inspire them to also be at the top of their game.

Men should invest in good skin care as well…a good moisturizer and eye cream really is not something to be embarrassed about.   I get a crazy response from some of my guy friends or guys I have dated when I suggest something they think is girly. If you tan before a vacation, use skin care products, teeth whitener, getting a manicure and pedicure, use hair products…all of that is really no different than going to the gym on a regular basis.   A man who puts a little extra effort into himself is just sexy, trust me, farmers and cowboys need face moisturizer just like the rest of us!

I often write about good character, self-improvement and learning to grow and be a better person.  I think a well rounded individual understands the key to a fulfilling life is to be happy with the inside and the outside…the whole self.  It is not a bad thing to invest in your outside as long as you are making efforts to invest in your heart, soul and the betterment of relationships and the world around you as well.  We all deserve to look and feel beautiful!

With love, health and beauty for all…

Stacy