Healthy, Happy, Beautiful | Saying No.

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If you’ve talked to me much about life, you probably know that my slogan for the lifestyle that I want to live is: Healthy, Happy, Beautiful. If you ask me what that means to me, that is a much more complicated answer. I’m still figuring it out…day-by-day. But that’s really cool to me, because I know that it has deep meanings that God is still showing me glimpses of, each and every day. What kind of life do you desire? Are you living it? I think so many of us just accept what is ‘happening’ to us, as what our life is going to forever look like. I don’t think that’s right. Yes, there are things we don’t get to choose. And that’s okay. But there are also ways that we can change how we live, in ways that align with our personal goals! {Goals are a FANTASTIC thing, btw! Please have personal goals!!}

What do you feel about saying no? Yep. I felt it. That shudder. That uncomfortable feeling. Looking away. Feeling awkward. Shaking your head slightly. You see, somewhere we got the idea that we’re not allowed to say no. Especially to service. Well, I say that’s bullshit. How is that how God would want us to live? Spreading ourselves so thin that we no longer have the energy or enthusiasm to pursue what we really love? I think that’s missing our calling. When everyone does everything, nobody is placed where they are gifted! That takes the joy out of serving, out of loving. We instantly feel guilt and shame when we are about to say no to doing something good, so we say yes…even though we know that means letting other priorities go, and even though we know that we aren’t excited about doing this task and we can’t see how this is what is good and right for YOU (but that’s a selfish way to think, so you better just shut up and get stuff done!).

When are we going to be brave enough to say no?! That’s not my gift. That’s not my calling. I am aligning myself with Christ, and I am able to hear his voice. I don’t feel drawn to do that. I feel like I am fake when I am in that place. That’s not even a healthy place for me to be, so I have to say no. I know that I would be doing that for all of the wrong reasons…mostly because people expect me to, and they unknowingly place guilt on me for saying no.

Maybe there’s a better way of living. What if we would all just say yes to those things that excite us? That fill us with joy, and things we long to do? What if that wasn’t selfish? But that is really following what God has for us. What if what you want is…GOOD? Not bad, not selfish, not terrible, not vain. But good. What if what you love to do aligns with the way that God wants you to serve, and love on other people?

Maybe this didn’t say much of anything. A lot of questions. A lot of random, incomplete thoughts. But I hope it meant something to somebody. It means a lot to me. Think about it. What does God have for YOU? Is it loving people in the church, by serving them, helping people, etc.? If so, that’s great! But…aren’t there other ways of serving and loving people? How do your spiritual gifts affect your service and love? Are you using them? Think about it 🙂

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{Create} Bullet Journal, part two

Check out my first post about my fairly new bullet journal system here to read the intro and some of the reasons why I love it so much, if you missed it! 🙂 Then keep reading 🙂

Alright! Let’s get into my first few pages, and what I’ve done with MY bullet journal…what works and what doesn’t really work, so that I know what to change for next time…and so that you can get an idea for what might work, or not so much, for you! 😀

First things first, the index!

A reason I LOVE this notebook is that it comes with an index written in, and all of the pages are already numbered, as well! So it’s SUPER easy to fill out this index as you keep adding pages to your bullet journal. You simply write the page number(s) down and what it’s about, and then you can continue creating new pages, or filling them out, without having to take MORE time to number pages by hand, or create an index, or something like that! MINE is colorful, because, as I said before, I LOVE COLOR! And also, I typically just write it down in the same color that I was using for that page (laziness… haha). But yours doesn’t have to be, OR the colors could have more significance (which would be a much better idea, and something I should think about for next time haha). So you could color code the areas of interest. Another thing to note is, you don’t have to put every page into the index! In fact, I would suggest not to! Just the ones that you want to remember and probably go back to. So that means NOT putting the weekly spreads in the index, which is a lot of pages that you don’t have to log into the index, which is nice!

A few of the pages that I included in the index is:

  • Gratitude log
  • Habit tracker
  • Expenses
  • Monthly goals

Etc…

But it’s up to you! What would you like to easily be able to find again? Include, or skip, whatever you would like, since this system is all about what works for YOU and is ultimately for you! 😀

My very next page after the index is my Key:

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When I finish this notebook and get another one, I will probably set the key up better than I have here. I need to figure out my color coding system here better, so that I can better use it throughout the notebook with everything I need it for. But these are many of the symbols that are commonly used in the bullet journal community, so I listed them all here. I think they are helpful. I may or may not include this list, or at least this exhaustive list, in every bullet journal that I have in the future because I will get used to using these symbols, etc., but for the first bullet journal, I think it’s a good reminder to have them all listed here. But I may need to do some revising for the future KEY in my next bullet journal.

Another page that I am trying to keep up with is my Gratitude Log.

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So far, this is the only design that I have tried. Any ideas for other designs? I like this one, but I’m always open for suggestions! I think it’s cute, but very, very simple, which this VERY non-artist needs! Anyway, basically I just draw a banner with Gratitude Log written in it (as you can see), with the date, along with five dots for each date to list 5 things each day that I am thankful for. Some days I obviously don’t get that done, but that’s the plan, anyway! Gratitude helps you focus on the little things that we so often overlook, and it helps us look at life more positively. Some days it’s rough to find even a couple things that I am really, truly thankful for that day…but over time I start to appreciate those things more and more as I have to search my head and heart to find those blessings in that particularly hard day. If you aren’t currently doing something like this, I would suggest that you try it! It’s really great! 🙂 Also, I usually draw out only a couple of these pages at a time. You can do as many at a time as you want…I just using do a couple pages, and then when it’s all filled in, I just go to the next blank page and draw out the next few pages! (:

Okay! So, how about a look at one of my weekly spreads?? This was actually my very first!

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At some point I would really love to get better at calligraphy, because that would just make it look sooo much better. But I decided to keep it simple, especially at first, with the words and all. These first few spreads are quite busy, because this is at the end of the school year when everything is crazy! So anyway, let me walk you through this a bit 🙂

The lines at the top, before the day and the date with the numbers in between them are supposed to be the hours of the day. So, I color coded them so that I colored in when I’m supposed to be sleeping, working out, in class, at work, etc…so then theoretically the blank spaces would be ‘open’ or ‘free’ time. Granted, this time could also be a time when you intentionally plan to get stuff done, because you can see that you don’t have anything planned yet and it’s an open period of time to get work done. That is a good idea. So I have that at the beginning of many of my weekly spreads, though not all.

WHY IT WORKS:

  • Theoretically it sounds like an awesome, and useful, idea. It SHOULD help me with productivity and planning out my time a little, without having to plan out a time for everything specifically.
  • I love the extra colors 😉

WHY IT DOESN’T WORK:

  • I don’t know that I used it to its full potential. Maybe it’s just laziness (probably), but I know I didn’t use my ‘blank space time’ like I should have, to be more productive. But I still think it’s a great idea! You just have to remember to be intentional about all of your time!

The flags are obviously the date, and I like it! It’s colorful and fun, BUT ALSO VERY SIMPLE! (: Other than the obvious task lists that I have up for each day, I also included something that I was counting down to at the time: Graduation! I think it’s fun to look forward to things, and it helps to know that it’s coming up sooner than you may have thought! During that time, it felt like graduation would NEVER get here and school would never end, so it helped me to be able to cross that off at the end of each day (or whatever) and then the next day, I would be able to SEE that it really was one day closer! I loved this! I will be adding the next thing I’m looking forward to on my pages soon, hopefully.

That’s basically what I think needs to be said about that weekly spread, and those pages. Please ask if you have any questions, comment with any suggestions or thoughts, or whatever! What do you think so far?? 🙂 Next post coming soon!

{Create} Bullet Journal, part one

Okay, so I promised to write a post (or a couple of posts) about my bullet journal, so I hope people read it and enjoy it 🙂

First, if you don’t know what it is, here’s my explanation:

A totally customizable, cute planner system

Simple. Right?

Well, there’s soooo much more (better things!) to it than that, and I’m going to let you in to what I have done with MY bullet journal so far (I’ve only had mine since the very end of the school year, so I haven’t been doing it very long at all).

Here’s what I LOVE about the system, and why I think it’s a good fit for me (and why it might be for you!):

  • It’s a planner so I can write down all of my to-do lists and deadlines so I don’t forget anything. I figured out a WHILE ago that I need some kind of system to write these things in, or I will “forget” everything, and NEVER get anything done!
  • It’s COMPLETELY customizable! This means that you can make it as cute, or simple, as you like! For me, when things are cute, I am MUCH more likely to actually use them. So, this is why I love the bullet journal set up soooo much! If you are an artist, this also might be a good choice for you (and it will look MUCH better than mine! lol).
  • It allows me to track whatever I want to. Not only is it a place for me to write my To-Do lists and Deadlines (especially needed during the school year)…but it also allows me to document lists, track habits, create 30-day challenges, etc.! But more on that later…
  • You can add as much, or as little, as you want to. And IT’S ALL UP TO YOU! Literally the whole system is up to you, which is great! If you want to add in all the details, you can! If you want to just jot down a few lines and you’ll remember what they mean, that’s just as good!
  • If something doesn’t turn out the way you think it should, OR it doesn’t work for you…you can change it next time! The whole system is built on GRACE, not perfection (at least that’s my motto for it!). For example, if you draw out a weekly spread, and then when you’re done you find out that you HATE how it looks, you don’t ever have to use it again. You can go ahead and use it for that week (to not waste paper & space…but you don’t have to), and then reevaluate what you could do better next time, or change the look altogether! OR, you draw out a habit tracker one way, but then as you go realize that it doesn’t look like you thought it would, or it doesn’t work as well as you want it too, next month you can try something new, which is awesome! Or if you try something out, and then realize that you really didn’t need to include it, or it doesn’t help you…you’ve learned and you won’t have to draw it again! However on the flip-side, if something TOTALLY works for you, you have every chance to make it even BETTER next time, and you learn and grow and your productivity and happiness really should grow as well!
  • It’s fun, and not a boring recording of things to do as ‘normal’ planners are. I love cute things. And I think it’s fun to look up inspiration on pinterest (seriously, look it up because there are sooo many good ideas, and that’s where I got pretty much all of my ideas…at least what I started with!). And, even though I completely suck at drawing, I think it’s fun to try to do artsy things, even if they have to be simple because I’m not that great. If you’re amazing at calligraphy, your bullet journal would be sooo beautiful! I might have to learn to be better at that! But I don’t see using my bullet journal as a boring thing that I ‘should’ do, to make sure I get things done, etc…as I often saw my planner as. My bullet journal actually kinda excites me (lol laugh if you want…), and I enjoy logging new things, recording things, trying to get healthier habits so that I can live the life that I want to live, etc.

That’s enough about that. You probably get the point. I think it’s awesome. What do you think so far??

Okay…first of all….WHAT EQUIPMENT DO YOU NEED/DO YOU HAVE?

Well…I didn’t buy a whole lot, because I am not in the position to be able to do that 😦 Some day, if I’m still into this (which I probably will be), and I have a little more extra money, I may invest in more ‘equipment’ for the bullet journal so that it looks nicer, it’s more fun, etc. For example, I’ve heard you can get really cute stickers or stamps that would spice it up nicely, without you having to be a good artist.

  • Pens.
    • Alright, so good pens really matter. And it’s all up to you on what pens you want to get! I know you can get nicer pens than I have, but I decided to just use the ones that I already had lying around…for me, I LOVE colors, so I had to have plenty of colorful pens! I’ve always been this way, and about each school year (or a little longer than that) I buy a colorful pen set from Walmart (and I use them, a LOT!). For me, a bullet journal with NO COLOR would be absolutely boring. Up to you, tho. That’s what I have.
  • Notebook.
    • Oh, did I mention that the bullet journal is really just in a notebook? Therefore, you can do whatever you want as far as which notebook you want to use! I know they make specific notebooks that are better for Bullet Journals, but if you want to go a cheaper option, there’s no shame and you could probably make it work just fine. I got the Leuchtturm notebook. I got blue this time, but I believe there are a couple other different colors that I will need to try next time!

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So, again…the equipment is up to you! How much do you want to spend? You CAN buy more expensive, or more stuff…but the point is, you can do it very simply with nice pens you already have, and maybe buying a nice notebook, like one of the ones I got. Go for it!

I will write more on this soon! 🙂 Tell me what you think about this so far 🙂 Comments? What do you think about it? Are you thinking about trying it? What are your reasons to start a bullet journal?! Questions about how it works, or anything like that? I will show photos in my next post about some of my logs, trackers, and weekly spreads.

For a little while…

As many of you probably know, I have the amazing opportunity to work at Gull Lake Ministries this summer! For those of you who don’t know much about it, it is a family camp in Michigan. A couple days ago I got back from an 11-day orientation, and I will be returning to officially work there during all of July into early August!

Well, orientation was a whirl-wind. Quite literally (almost). It was crazy. It was very busy, with a lot going on. Some bad attitudes on my part were brought up in my mind, hoping that Christ will help me get rid of those as I prepare to actually start working there for about a month. Maybe to you, a month doesn’t sound like a long time at all. Okay, in reality, it’s really not. But let me tell you something…

EACH DAY DURING ORIENTATION FELT LIKE A WEEK!

Not that that is a bad thing, but when Orientation was finally over, I couldn’t believe that I had just been there for a week in a half. I felt like I hadn’t been home in forever! So, anyway, yeah…being there for an entire month scares me a little. Okay, maybe a L O T . Not that that’s bad. I think maybe that’s a good thing. Anyway, let me stop rambling…

I just wanted to share a few things that God has put on my heart and taught me…in 11 days! at orientation.

  1. Working at a camp is hard! So, I knew it would be hard. Obviously. But it was harder than I thought it might be. In fact, during the first couple of days, I really didn’t think I would be able to make it through orientation. 11 days felt like forever to stay there, and then I had to come back and work for AN ENTIRE MONTH??! How in the world would that even be possible?! I thought I was wayyyy in over my head here! This was NOT comfortable at all. I felt like I wasn’t qualified enough and fears tumbled through my head about not being able to do what was asked of me and being completely embarrassed and having to leave.
  2. But it’s so worth it. Did I mention that I was only there for 11 days?? But after that time, I didn’t want to leave. Maybe not all of my motivation came from wanting to serve the Lord and others and all of that… (I had to admit, that wasn’t a lot of it, although I will say that I really am excited to see what God speaks to my heart through all of this this summer!). But I really didn’t want to leave. I had made friends…people that I didn’t know at ALL (except King). At the very beginning of orientation, Ambush (one of the leaders) said that we would become close to these people. At that point, I really wasn’t all that sure about that…but it’s amazing what happens while you are there, working side-by-side with these people! I was so sad to leave the people that were first half, especially, because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to see them hardly at all anymore!
  3. Service is hard, but it’s possible. I remember thinking several times throughout orientation that I might not be cut out for this. I’m not “good” at service. I didn’t think I was “enough of a servant” to do well in this job, in this place. But for some reason, I got through all of orientation. I even enjoyed certain parts of service, when my head was in the right place!
  4. God knows where I’m at. And He even has me there for a reason! I applied to work as a counselor. I got kitchen. YES, you heard me right. KITCHEN! Me? Ha! If you know me much at all, you know that I don’t spend a ton of time in the kitchen. Not that I hate it, or I’m terrible at it…I just haven’t spent the time learning all of that stuff…growing up, I was much more interesting in being outside. Being in the kitchen is HARD WORK. And people don’t really even think about you being in there all day. It may seem easy from the outside, but believe me, IT’S NOT! You are literally in there ALL day, working 14+ hour days, just working 0n all of the meals for the day! You are standing on your feet all day, until they get numb…and then you’re STILL standing on your feet for hours and hours and hours after that! What has helped me is singing along with the Christian songs that are often playing in the kitchen all day. This helps me to get my head in the right place and focus on having fun and focusing on Christ, instead of my aching feet, how hot or cold I am (grilling 100+ hamburgers, or organizing the fridges and freezers, I’ve done both!), etc. It is a struggle to not want to be recognized by other staff more often by the hard work that I am doing, but I know that I should be doing this for God, anyway. It’s rough and some days are much harder than others, but overall I actually am starting to enjoy myself in there, WHEN my head and heart are set on the right things!
  5. Little blessings, are BIG blessings! So, at camp, I’m not allowed to spend much time at ALL with my boyfriend. I completely understand why and it is really a good thing. But, it’s tough. Especially some days. I have REALLY good days, and then I have some not so good days. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the other staff that I work with, which I may not have done so well if I was ‘allowed’ to spend more time with King. Also, I have come to appreciate the tiny little blessings, which now seem like a huge deal to me, which I LOVE. While at camp, I appreciate being able to catch a glimpse of King, even if he’s across the room, and smile at each other. That helps me know that I’m not alone, and that He is thinking about me too, and that He loves me. And I am appreciating more and more the small amounts of time that we DO get to talk to each other. Even if it’s asking what he did that day. Or how it went. Doesn’t have to be deep. We don’t really have time for deep conversations, at least in person (also, writing letters, although hard, is completely AWESOME!), but that’s okay too! It’s these little things that are sooo so amazing and I absolutely love!

Maybe there’s more, I’m not sure at the moment, though. If I can learn that many things in 11 days, think of what God can do in a whole month! As I mentioned before, yes, I am a little scared. A month is a longgg time. I’m gonna be tired. Irritated. Exhausted. And probably many other feelings such as that. But I also know that I’m gonna be alright, because God has put me at GULL LAKE MINISTRIES, and in the job KITCHEN, for a very specific purpose. It wasn’t a mistake. So I can do it!

 

Also, if you could send me encouragement/letters/etc. while I am there in July, that would be completely awesome!! I will include more information on that later, as it comes closer! ❤

{Health&Fitness} So I changed…

so I changed

How do you feel? Overall? Day after day?

Sluggish?

Tired?

Zero energy?

Stressed???

Disgusted with yourself?

Yeah…I know the feeling, as do many, MANY other people! You are not alone and I hope you really let that sink in to you right now! If you’re feeling alone in this issue, you know, lack of motivation, not meeting your goals (maybe you set too high of goals for yourself? I literally don’t even want to talk about that because I KNOW I set WAYYY too high of goals for myself OFTEN! Do you relate?), what you see as ‘failing’ every day, etc…trust me, you are NOT.

Honey, give yourself the grace and love to get out of the current lifestyle that you are living if you don’t love it. If you hate how you feel about yourself, CHANGE it. If you hate the way you view life, CHANGE it! If you hate the direction your life is going, CHANGE it. You have every right to do that.

And do you know what else?

You’re worth it!

Maybe you feel like people expect so much out of you, that you can’t change the way you are living. You can’t slow down. You can’t make the changes that you want to, because you feel stuck where you are. Well, I don’t believe that’s true.

I do 100% know that it is freaking hard to change all of those things. I know, from personal experience. I have been using the bullet journal to help me track some healthier lifestyle choices, keeping them as simply and small as I can so that I can ultimately make some huge changes in the way I see life, view MY life, and live it! Trust me, it is literally the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I have failed day after day after day (which maybe my definition of ‘failure’ is wrong…and I’m thinking it is…). But I haven’t given up yet because I keep trying the next day. What are some important, yet small healthy habits that you can start to work on TODAY? Here are some of the things I have tried…I will write a blog post later on how I track these things and all of that in a cute, organized way (and with the hope of giving myself grace when I don’t meet my goals, instead of judgement and the feeling of failure, and celebrate when I do reach my goals or at least do well in reaching towards them). But for now, here are some of the areas in my life that I decided to try to make healthier choices:

  1. Waking up at an appropriate time.
    1. Whatever this means for you. And it may change, season to season. You can either write out that time each month (if it changes, or whatever), or you can write ‘appropriate time’ which, for me is what I have done. I don’t really think it’s quite specific enough, however, so maybe when I go back to school I will try to nail that time down a little better.
    2. THINK: What is the appropriate time for YOU, personally, to wake up each morning? Do you have a job? When do you have to leave for work in the morning, if that is the case? What about school, when it’s time for school? What are your goals for the morning? Do the healthier choices that you’ve committed to in the morning include breakfast, coffee, special quiet time with jesus, prayer, yoga, short workout session, etc…? What works best for YOU? What makes YOU feel alive, focused, at peace, healthy and happy? Don’t allow others to make this choice for you (unless you have major responsibilities, in which case you will need to work around that schedule a bit).
  2. Hydrate
    1. I am absolutely terrible at drinking enough water. This runs in my family. But this is one of my goals because, obviously I know I’m terrible at it, and because I have heard drinking a lot of water does many wonderful and healthy things to your body!
    2. THINK: How much do I drink now? DON’T start off with an impossible goal to start with, or you will find that you won’t drink any at all because you know you’re not going to reach your goal, so why try? Why not start with one more glass than usual? Find ways that help you, personally, WANT to drink more water! I love cute mugs, cups, etc. and I believe those things actually help me drink more water. If it is the same for you, invest in an adorable cup and try to keep it with you throughout the day, if you can! If you workout, that also encourages me to drink more water. Both of these things are healthy, and that way you can drink more water as well! Try to keep that cup or water bottle with you so you are drinking all that your body needs! Also, I just started this (and I’m still terrible at it…), but I also think it also helps if you have a cute way to track the water that you are drinking and that shows you what you have left to do to reach your goal for the day! I will post that in my bullet journal post(s) because that’s where it’s at 🙂 It’s the best!
  3. Yoga
    1. Okay, I am also horrible at this (this post isn’t saying many good things about me, is it…lol). I have really been meaning to get into yoga, especially during the summer since I have more time to learn it…I just really have to focus on trying to learn one pose at a time!
    2. THINK: How does this benefit me? What are my motivations behind wanting to start yoga? Is this really for me? Now, or should I wait until I am more committed to this? Where does this fit into my routine? Is it a thing to energize me right when I get out of bed in the morning…or should I use it to destress and relax me right before getting into bed at night? Either way, I think it’s a great, healthy habit that I still want to get into but haven’t really yet. How does this look like practically for ME? I also set monthly goals for myself in the different areas in my life (personal, career/school, fitness, spiritual, etc.), and one of my goals for this month was to look up 3 yoga poses and learn how to do them properly. Unfortunately I have not met those goals this month, but that doesn’t mean that was a bad idea. I think that’s a good way to start! But think about your life and think about what will work best for you. 🙂
  4. Cardio/strength training
    1. This is a HUGE goal that I have set for myself this year. Since last Christmas, I have been thinking that I want to go to Thailand next Christmas because that is where my boyfriend lives, and for so many other reasons. I used that as my ULTIMATE goal in getting fit. So, from there, I broke down what it looked like practically each day. I set goals for myself and got in a routine last semester for working out. This summer (well, this month so far), it has been a little more spotty than it should have been…but as every new season begins, you have to find new routines, right? I was comfortable in the routine I had with working out last semester, but now I need a new one for this month, and next month it’s going to look a little different still. And July I won’t be here. And then I have one more semester at school where I will need to find yet ANOTHER routine for working out! But these are all GOOD things!
    2. THINK: What works in my life AT THIS MOMENT? What do I enjoy, that is active and fun and out there?! Am I at the place where I have access to a gym? If so, GREAT! Can you get there every day? If not, there are PLENTY of other things you could be doing! You just have to committed, and you can do home workouts, go for a run, or a bunch of other things! What routine should I set up for myself? Do I have anyone in my life (that I see everyday and that has similar goals to myself) that could help keep me accountable, be a good influence, and do workouts with me? I think it’s always better to have someone to keep you accountable and help you get that workout in, even when you don’t feel like it…whether that’s best friend, boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, etc. And have fun with it! Remember, if you don’t enjoy it at all, you probably aren’t going to stick with it very long. So find the kind of workouts that you enjoy the most and do those as often as you can, with maybe mixing in a few other disciplined workouts in there as well.
  5. No pop
    1. I actually made this a 30-day challenge in my bullet journal (which will be in another post) because I got to the place where I drank pop a LOT. I never did while I was growing up and even when I went to college I didn’t until maybe about Junior year. Towards the end of this semester I decided that that is a terrible habit, so I made a 30-day challenge to get myself ‘off’ that habit for a while. I will post more about that soon 🙂
    2. THINK: Do you drink pop often? If you do, do you have a problem with that? Is it really the best choice for you? What about healthier options? And remember…this doesn’t mean that you CAN’T EVER have pop…it just means you shouldn’t have it ALL the time! Remember…BALANCE! So, if you are ready to commit to this, think about starting a 30-day challenge! If you’re not there yet, no worries! I wasn’t ready to commit to this for a LONGGG time. You’ll get there! Focus on another healthy habit instead, and come back to this one later! Habits can’t be broken overnight 🙂
  6. Food log
    1. I haven’t fully committed this to myself, yet, so I really shouldn’t have it as one of my healthy habits that I am working on…I haven’t been consistent at ALL, because I’m not dedicated to do so.
    2. THINK: Is this something that you have wanted to keep track of? What are your reasons? Do you want to start eating healthier, and you think this fits your life and would be a great fit for you right now? THEN GO FOR IT! Think of cute, fun ways to keep you writing down and tracking what you’re eating!
  7. Fitness progress photo
    1. I do this at the beginning of each month. The first day, if at all possible. I started this before I started working out consistently at the beginning of last semester. I took a photo of me in my bra and leggings (sometimes it’s shorts, or underwear)…whatever you want, because these photos are only for you. To track where you have come from. Trust me, it helps me a LOT. Because when you look at yourself in my mirror every day, it’s near impossible to see any changes in your body. It’s much easier if you have photos to look back on!
    2. THINK: Am I working on getting rid of some fat? Toning muscles? Changing my body through workouts? Can I see physical changes, or is it hard for me to admit to myself that I might actually be doing a good job for once? Maybe this should be an option for me. Just FOR ME. To see my progress. Finally. To realize that I am actually doing great things for my body and that every healthy choice is really getting me closer to my goals each month! (Don’t do it more than one month apart! You won’t see changes and it will discourage you!)
  8. Sleep by ____
    1. I said 12. Because I am a night owl and I prefer to stay up pretty late and, especially during the school year/when I have things going on, that’s too late. And in the morning I’m grumpy. I feel tired all day. And….it sucks.
    2. THINK: What time would you ultimately want to be asleep by? Do you like to go to bed early? Do you like time in the morning? How much sleep do you need/want? What makes you really FEEL good, as far as when you go to bed, when you get up, etc.? Sometimes making healthy choices means denying yourself of what you would really like to do (like at night…watching movies, relaxing, etc…), so that in the morning you can get up feeling energized, great about yourself, healthy and happy!
  9. Read Bible
    1. Onto my spiritual healthy habits. In my monthly habits, for this month I put a specific book that I wanted to read through this month (or at least get a lot of the way through, depending on the book!). That way I would have a plan for which book to read in!
    2. THINK: What goals should I personally have this month in reading God’s Word? Do I need to spend MORE time with Him each day, or do I genuinely feel good about what I have been doing? Any changes needed?
  10. Pray
    1. Something I have been trying to get better at doing recently. For me, personally, I prefer to write them all down. I’m a writer, so I pray as I write in my journal. But it’s up to you…do whatever works best FOR YOU!
    2. THINK: How do I feel closest to God? Does that mean finding a pretty place, and getting away from ‘my life’ for a bit? Does that mean working up a sweat before finding a place to be calm and quiet and listen to God speak? Does that mean sitting on the floor, the bed, a couch…? How do you feel that you connect with God? Writing? Talking out loud? What are some other ideas that you may have? Do what is best for YOU, not anybody else!
  11. Read Christian book
    1. This doesn’t have to be apart of everyone’s devotional time. But I love this. I’m better at reading things like this than the bible, because I feel like it gives more direction to me and thoughts that I wouldn’t think of on my own. I am almost finished reading “captivating”, which I absolutely love! I am about to buy one of Brene Brown’s books, which I am so excited about! What do you like to read that brings you closer to God, gets you to think, and helps you grow?
    2. THINK: Is this something that would help my walk with God? If not, that’s great! Stick with God’s Word and keep going! But if so, find a great Christian book to settle down with, maybe in place of the Bible some days, or in addition to, if you have more time! What kind of book would speak to you with where you are at right now? Does that book help bring you to your best version of yourself?
  12.  Journal
    1. I mentioned that I am a writer (or, maybe you could tell by how long this post is getting…I didn’t even intend to write about any of this stuff, it just flows…). Journaling helps me focus on what matters. Release stress. Figure out life. Talk to God. Does it for you?
    2. THINK: Does journaling fit with my life at the moment? Am I a writer? Is this how I prefer to focus on the right things, process things and thoughts, talk and listen to God, etc.?
  13. Gratitude Log
    1. Again, I will have another post about this in detail, but in my bullet journal I try to write down 5 things that I am thankful for each day. I don’t hit every day, but the days that I do, it helps me a lot! It helps me to focus on the positive things in each day, instead of something negative that may have happened. It helps me to be grateful for all that I have, and all that God has given me…each and every day. It’s a wonderful practice, and I think everyone should start this habit!
    2. THINK: Are you really grateful for the things and people and events that happen in your life? Are you really grateful for the hand of God working throughout your day? Do you see those things, or do you skip over them? I think it’s farrrrr too easy to skip over the small, simple things that are REALLY good, if you don’t write them down in some sort of gratitude log! And that’s a shame, because then I think we miss a huge blessing! We miss seeing God, sometimes! We miss the positives, and for some of us, focusing on the negatives are FARRRR too easy, and this helps some! How does this look for you? Using your phone, or on paper? Pretty, or simple? I’ll share what my gratitude log looks like in my bullet journal post(s).
  14. Tithe
    1. This is something that I have been soooo bad at for years. I never could get a hold on how to tithe each month, or how that would work for me. Partly because I never had a system available to me that really, truly WORKED for me (so I didn’t feel like I was fighting against myself!). But then I started going to a church where you could tithe from your phone. And I made a commitment to try. And I write it down. And track it in my bullet journal!
    2. THINK: Do you need to improve in this area?? What are some ideas that you may have as for ways that will work for YOU?! I’ll share what I have found works for ME in my bullet journal post(s)!! Stay tuned 🙂

After that I have other ‘healthy habits’, or just habits that I wanted to track, etc. These include fun items (under the CREATIVE tab): New blog post, instagram photo challenge, planning for the evening, morning, week or month…and then I have my FINANCIAL habits: No spend, expenses recorded, save for Thailand, and ask King about his expenses, to help him keep on track as well! I will talk about all of these things in more depth in my bullet journal post! Stay tuned for that!

What other healthy habits can you think of? Have you started new, healthier habits?? How have you stayed motivated? How have you tracked them? What are they, and why do they work for you?! Please comment and share your ideas, thoughts, inspiration, etc.! You can do it. I can do it. One step at a time. Progress is still progress, even if it’s in little, TINY, almost UNSEEABLE steps!! 🙂

{Health&Fitness} Definitely not boring

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{Mid-workout}

Today, I decided that I wanted to try a fun workout at home, using mostly bodyweight exercises. (I say mostly because my family owns a stability ball and a few weights, which I used for a few of the workouts). You, however, can totally skip those workouts or not put those workouts on the index cards if you don’t have access to these things, or you can change it slightly to meet your needs with where you are at the moment.

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I saw this idea on pinterest (where else?) and I finally gave it a try this afternoon!

First of all, I already had a few workouts written out on index cards. I grabbed these cards and made a few extras. Then I divided them into sections, based on the kind of workout: i.e. abs, butt & legs, arms, and cardio. You could also simply keep them all in one pile, and just see what you get…but that way it won’t be as evenly divided and you won’t get a full-body workout, most likely. But that’s completely up to you and what you want for that day! Also, if you just wanted to focus on one section of your body that day (i.e. arms), you could write a lot of different exercises for your arms on index cards and just use those. It’s completely flexible!

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Then I grabbed the uno deck that we have at our house. I shuffled the cards first. Then I picked up the first card. Then I assigned a workout group (abs, butt & legs, arms, or cardio) to the color that was on that card. And then I did that for each color, including the wild cards. (For that I just repeated the ab group because I wanted to).

Then, because it is an absolutely GORGEOUS day, and because I am obsessed with being outside, especially on beautiful days like this, I carried my cards and workout equipment outside! That’s where I set everything up. I laid everything on the grass (watch out for wind! It sorta messed things up for me once today…). I kept my colored card on top of the workout that I was working on so that I would keep the colors and workouts straight (i.e. I kept the initial red card that I had picked out on top of the initial workout that I had picked (such as a leg workout)).

I picked up the first card. I then looked at the color and noticed which color workout that went with. Then, I did as many reps as was on the card! For wild cards, the initial number was 11. If it was a +2, +4, etc., I would do 11 +2, or 11+4 (and that went with +2 colored cards as well). Obviously you can do this however you want too, that is just how I did it.

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When I made it to five cards of the same color (that I had already ‘used’, or completed that workout), I gathered up those cards and placed them in a pile. Then I would replace that workout with another workout of the same group (i.e. if I had completed the workout of 5 red cards, I took those cards away so I wouldn’t get them confused with any other piles. Then, if that color represented the ab workouts, I shuffled the ab workout index cards that I had and randomly chose (without looking!) another workout. So the next time I drew a red, I would do that workout instead!) Again, this is just how I did it. Any other ideas on how to do it differently? I also just saw a ‘0’ as a ‘by’, but you can treat these things completely different, or whatever best suits your needs or wants!

However, DON’T skip cards! I know it’s tempting…some of the exercises I had on there were really difficult, and then I picked up cards with high reps on them! These were difficult and I wanted to skip, or quit in the middle, but I didn’t! I forced myself to complete the set (I never even stopped in the middle to take a rest, even though I thought I was going to have too…if you have been working out for a while, try to not take rests in between!). Stick to it. And sometimes the reps are so low, you wonder if it’s even worth it. Like a ‘1’ card. Don’t skip it! I believe that every rep counts!

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At the end of my workout (I worked at it for about an hour…I was originally going to finish the stack of uno cards, but then I realized that I was hungry and really did need food-haha-and that I had been working out for a long time already), this is what I had completed:

Burpees: 9 (I had stopped before I had finished 5 cards)

Roll-up: 11 (I had stopped before I had finished 5 cards)

Bicep curls: 18

Windshield wipers: 21

Plank jump-ins: 56 (This was one of the workouts I desperately wanted to skip! Especially since I had chosen this (without looking!) as my wild card workout. Although that means it didn’t come up as often as the others, it also meant more reps! Tons of +4 cards!)

Bridge: 32 seconds

Butt kicks: 33

Step ups: 44 (a step on the back porch of my house!)

Shoulder press: 27

Squats: 31

High knees: 32

Oblique crunches on stability ball: 51

Lunge step ups: 52

Push-up with side opening: 27 (Trust me, this was definitely another one that I didn’t think I could do, and wanted to skip or quit or take a rest! But I didn’t even allow myself to take a rest in the middle of the set! Keep going, you can do more than you think you can!)

Mountain climbers: 41

Stairs (steps): 28 (At this time I didn’t have the option of stairs unless I went inside my house to run up and down the stairs, so I just ran on the step on the back porch instead!)

While all of those were broken up, I completed each and every one of those reps! It looks like a lot (my legs were kind of shaking when I went inside and who knows what I’m going to feel tomorrow! lol), it was kinda fun! My point? Working out doesn’t have to be boring. You don’t even have to take time to go to the gym (or pay for a membership) to live a healthy lifestyle! This was something fun that I did outside (you could easily do inside if you are more comfortable there…I just prefer being outside on beautiful days!), and something that I enjoyed! And now I feel AMAZING, knowing that I did more than I ever thought I could do!

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What are your fun workout ideas? What are some things you would do to change this one?

And DON’T FORGET YOUR WATER!!! I have this adorable little mug/cup that helps me keep on track with drinking enough water (or, I’m hoping it will as I attempt to make it a healthy habit of mine!). There’s just something about having something cute that really helps! I brought it right outside with me and kept it in the shade! Keep drinking 🙂

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{Health & Fitness} Invest in Yourself

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Have you ever thought about what it means for you to truly invest in yourself? Have you been doing that?

If so, that is fantastic and I’m happy that you have made yourself a priority!

But for most of us, I do not think that is the case.

Especially, I’m sad to say, in Christian communities. This, I think, is why we see so many exhausted, defeated men and women walking around, serving, but not from the heart, showing up when they should, but all they can think about is going home to rest. I mean, we don’t really need a billion things to do for church, etc., after all, we have jobs, school, relationships…tons of responsibilities during the week. How are we supposed to have the energy for this during the weekend, too?

I think that part of the answer is in investing in yourself. I don’t know where you’re coming from. But I have seen this, and I have been there and I know. When you read those words: “take some time to invest in yourself!”…what immediately comes to mind?

Fear? What will other people think when I say I’m taking some time for myself. Will they think I’m a horrible Christian and have my priorities all wrong? Will they label me as ‘selfish’? Will they judge me for not saying yes to all service opportunities? Will they look down on me because I admit that I’m tired?! Or, what will God think of this? If I don’t say yes to that opportunity, who else will step in? Does HE think this is selfish and a waste of time?! 

Dread? This means I have to admit to myself and to others that I am exhausted and that I don’t have it all together…which is scary. Also, this means that I will have no excuses. I will need to look at myself for once…I can’t hide behind serving others and always focusing on other people 24/7. I don’t even like myself all that much, so I don’t know if I want to spend much time by myself or on me. Am I even worth it? 

Hesitation? If I spend time, energy, effort, and money on myself, that means I won’t be able to participate in other things. My life can’t go on for an hour or two a week (or whatever works best for YOU, with where you are right nowwithout me! How will my husband manage to take care of the kids for half an hour? I am being so selfish! We need that money for other things, and I’m spending this on myself? I don’t think I can do that! And it continues…

What is it for you? {If another emotion comes to mind, I would love for you to comment with that word and a description like I did above!}

Look, healthy habits are scary. And hard. FREAKING hard. They often seem impossible, actually! I recently started a bullet journal (#BUJO), which I LOVE btw! {I can do a post about it, if people want} Part of the reason why I wanted one (with many, MANY other reasons!) is because of the habit tracker idea! And I am trying so hard to remind myself each and everyday that it really isn’t about the number of boxes that I don’t get to color in each day, or nearly as consistently as I wish I could. It’s all about giving myself the grace and love to see that I am trying, and to try and do better the next day! It’s hard, I’m not going to lie. Both that mentality, and the habits. But it’s important! {More on that later…}

What does ‘me’ time look like to you? I would encourage you to sit down and write it out and really think about it. Are you feeling tired? Exhausted, even? Empty? Here are some things that I can think of that may help you:

Health & Fitness | Nutrition. Working out. All of these things will help you not only look better, but feel better as well! When you start seeing and feeling results, you will be able to better serve and love the other people in your life. When you are in better shape, you will tend to like what you see in the mirror better, which will make you feel better about yourself so that you can love on other people better! You can do it…one day at a time! Forget about the results you want for a while…just focus on what you’re doing TODAY to get to your ultimate goals! Remember, the goal is to eliminate stress and get a healthier, happier lifestyle which starts with learning to love the process (because what happens when you get to where you ‘wanted’ to be? Don’t you want MORE?) 

Photography | Okay, so…this is my thing. So, this might not apply to you, but I’m willing to bet you can think of something that makes you feel the same way…so substitute that in here for you! Remember, this is ALL about thinking about what works best for YOU with the life that you are living, with where you are RIGHT NOW (not in a few weeks, months, years!). Sometimes all I need is to go out and take some pictures. Photography is my passion. It’s what I love. It makes me smile, especially when I have clients in my type of photography (seniors, portraits, engagements). It makes me feel like I have purpose, I am talented, I am living the life that I have dreamed about! It fills me with peace and happiness. It relieves stress. Do you have something like that? Think of what this might be for you, and try to do more of it! (In the right way! If I get busy doing photography just to take pictures, but it’s not for a type that I like…it has the EXACT OPPOSITE affect on me!)

Scrapbooking, or other crafty hobbies | Scrapbooking is another hobby of mine. I think it’s fun. It’s a creative outlet that doesn’t take too much thinking, but reminds me of all of the great memories that I have had with friends, etc. through the pictures. I love being creative. My bullet journal is also another creative outlet for me, although a slightly more structured outlet (on MY terms!). Do you have a hobby like this? Think through this and make time for it, if it helps relieve stress, reminds you of who you want to be and where you have come from, brings you closer to Christ, etc.! 

Spending quality time with Jesus, instead of a rushed time | This summer I am making it my personal goal to be better at this. It is so easy to let the time get away from us, isn’t it? Especially when you are busy with work, school, or both! This summer I have a job, but it doesn’t start until later (mostly July), and I haven’t been able to find anything else yet for before I leave, so I can’t use the excuse that I’m too busy…because I’m not! It’s simply a matter of deciding that this is a priority and discovering what works the best for me right now! You probably aren’t as free as I am, but it’s never too late to start trying to be more consistent with spending quality time with Jesus. His peace can fill you throughout the whole day, no matter what you might have going on. This is when he teaches you how to live and what to change…so you grow during the time when you’re living it out! You get better at it 🙂 

Praying deeply, without rushing | Basically the same as above! 

Reading through Christian books that help you, take your time and write out your thoughts! | Again, the same as above! I also love journaling (as you can probably tell), so another way that I love to take some time for myself is journaling out my thoughts, especially in relation to the current book that I am reading (Christian non-fiction). This is how I hash-out my thoughts. If you’re a writer, maybe try the same thing! It helps to get it all out, it helps you learn and grow, it helps you get closer to God and prayer right there on the pages, etc.! If you’re not a writer, NO WORRIES! {Remember: GRACE, not perfection…} Find out what makes you feel this way! Is it grabbing your best friend and going out for coffee and talking for hours (yeah, that’s mine too hehe)? Or is it some other way?

Are there other ways that you have found work out for you? {If so, I would LOVE if you would write it in the comments with a description similar to that above!!}

This health & fitness journey is so hard because it’s about a whole different lifestyle than we’ve been used to. The point is a healthy, happy lifestyle. Which is hard. But it is so, SO worth it! You are worth it. Beautiful. Worth the time, energy, effort, money, etc. that healthy and fitness and investing in yourself NEEDS!