Tuesday, May 21, 2019

May is Mental Health Month - Spiritual Guides that are helping my journey

May is Mental Health Month. I am dedicating the majority of my posts in May to discussing mental health. It is so important that we keep an open dialogue with friends and family about mental health. Suicide rates are at an all time high. I implore you to check on friends and family today and start an open dialogue about their mental health. 

Now in my journey, I have really put an emphasis in my life in spiritual teachings and meditation. I have lived 30 plus years gigged up in an anxious and stressed state. Not only is this physically, mentally, and emotionally emptying and exhausting it will straight up kill you eventually. You don’t have to look too hard to read about the dramatic changes your body goes through by being under stress all the time. Let’s just leave it at: not good. But when I hit the turning point where my health was at its worst and I knew I physically/mentally couldn’t do it any longer and that I wanted to live a different way. I started researching the benefits of yoga and meditation. 

Now these may not be right for you, my journey isn’t yours, but if you are looking for something to try I wanted to share some of my helpful guides on my journey, I truly feel they have helped me greatly and I don’t even know them which makes social media so powerful. 

For spirituality, life and relationship lessons, Monk lessons, and interesting guests who also embarked on spiritual journeys check out 
On Purpose with Jay Shetty a free podcast. Jay was a former monk who has a really cool journey. I’ve found him really helpful. 

For yoga I definitely recommend 
Yoga with Adriene Adriene is quirky, fun, and endearing. She has a way of pushing you gently. I really enjoy her home practice. 

I am continuing to add to my teachers and this list will continue to grow, but I urge you to seek out people who are on your level and learn from as many people as you can in this world. ❤️ No matter what journey you are on, I hope this finds you well. 

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

May is Mental Health Month - How to Overcome Overwhelming Change in Small Ways

When you make big changes in your life of course people notice!! And people often come to me for advice and I hear the same thing over and over, “I want to change, but I don’t know where to start.” The thought of changing is so overwhelming that you get stuck. You’re in the mud and you’re going nowhere so what do you do? You make a choice to stay where you’re at and you get frustrated and pissed at yourself because you can see that goal, but damn it, you just can’t see the way to get there. My advice to anyone on anything is to break whatever you’re working on down from a huge puzzle into just the corner. Much easier when you focus on the corner right? Remember puzzles when you were kids, seeking out the flat edged pieces and looking for those corners. Working on goals becomes much more manageable when broken down in that same way

You find your small manageable goal and that goal will turn into another goal. It’s like building a snowball. You keep rolling and rolling and rolling until you’ve got a huge one (I.e., you’ve met your goal). 

Let’s break it down further with real life examples. You’ve tried dieting and exercising for years and you just can’t stick to it. It’s too hard, but your health is suffering and you need to do something. Okay, I understand. It is overwhelming. So let’s do this, instead of committing your whole entire life to a completely changed world view of eating, can you commit to one week of changed eating? If the answer is yes, (and I know you can, anyone can do something for seven days) try it. At the end of that week, look intrinsically, evaluate, and ask yourself how you feel. Can you do it for another week, or even a month? Trust me. When you break it down into a temporary situation it is less likely to feel deprecating. 

Let’s look at another situation. You are completely busy, but you have the goal of spending more time on yourself but don’t know where you can create that time without depriving another aspect of your life. Again, break down that goal. Don’t expect for it to come overnight. Choose one day a week to get up early and choose self care. Don’t expect everything to fall in place for you. You have to care for you the way you want to be cared for! Treat yourself with the love and respect you deserve. 

One more example, your house is a chaotic, unorganized mess. You really want to get it in order. Instead of trying to tackle everything in one day, depending on how crazy your house is (I know mine was a bit nuts when I started), commit to one space or room per day. The next day you maintain the space you did before, and then start a new one. When you finish the whole place, you start over at the beginning. This makes the task much less daunting and easier to complete. 

For some, a goal board can be a helpful option. Here is a quick one I made. Visualizing your goals can help keep you on track with important decisions and remind you why you have the goals you have! 

I hope these simple steps I use to help me when I’m achieving goals helped you today. As always, thanks for reading!

Slow Cooker Tuscan Chicken Pasta

I am SO busy this year. My heart and mind are at a happy and full place and I’ve taken on way more challenges than ever before, but I’m really fulfilled. Throughout the day I’m a teacher, a mother, a friend, and a master gardener/homesteader, and in the evening my energy is generally low. I really enjoy putting things in my slow cooker during my high energy times and then having meals ready that are healthy and easy to prep in the evening. I got the idea for Tuscan chicken pasta from a few blogs but I heavily modified the recipe so I would definitely call this my own version. Enjoy!!

  • 3 good sized frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts (out of the cheap ALDI bag- no need to get fancy) 
  • 1 c. Chicken broth
  • Italian seasoning
  • Pink Himalayan salt
  • 2 jars Natural/clean Alfredo sauce (I used Newmans Own)
  • 1 small jar sundried tomatoes (MAKE SURE TO GET SULFITE FREE)
  • 1 tsp Red pepper flakes
  • 5 oz organic spinach
  • Wedge of fresh Parmesan, grated
  • Organic garlic 
  • Organic pasta 

  1. Line your slow cooker so you don’t have to clean it later. It’s just easier. Place your frozen chicken in and the chicken broth. Season with Italian seasoning and Himalayan salt. Cook on low for 6 hours minimum. 
  2. Pull out chicken and drain liquid. Shred with 2 forks. 

  3. Add in 2 jars of Alfredo, teaspoon of Italian seasoning, a teaspoon of red pepper flakes, 2 garlic cloves, and the wedge of freshly shredded Parmesan cheese. Cook on high for 30 minutes.

  4. Add in sundried tomatoes (drained well) and cook on high for an additional 10 minutes. 

  5. Add in spinach and cook on high until wilted, about 15 minutes. While it’s cooking you should whip up some pasta and a salad!! 

This was a definite winner!! Hope you guys enjoy it! It reheats great, too!!

Friday, May 10, 2019

May is Mental Health Month - How I lost 55 pounds by improving my mental health

May is Mental Health Month. My re-entry into blogging in May was so determined for me as I realigned my focus on the blog to match my realigned purposes in life. We are so ever evolving, ever changing. It is never too late to make changes big or small. One of the biggest noticeable changes that people ask about or have questions about is my weight. At my heaviest, I weighed MORE than 244 pounds. 244 is the last number at a doctors office before I quit weighing myself. I was unhealthy, on the verge of diabetes, facing heart and blood pressure problems, clinically stressed and depressed. I had thought about doing things or changing things, but I felt scared and I felt comfortable clinging to being stuck where I was. Due to past trauma, I felt like this was my path and it was one I should stay on and one I deserved to be on.

I think my biggest moment was getting back my A1C in June of 2018. My A1C was .1 away from being in the diabetic range. I saw a lifetime of missing my kids and sitting on the sidelines while life passed me by. So, I made the decision to change. But, losing a massive amount of weight absolutely starts first with a mental change. You can try and diet and exercise all day long, but if you’re miserable and stress your body is more likely to hold weight. And people who are morbidly obese like I was tend to be stress eaters or have a binge eating disorder (something that is super hard to get help for). So, start first by analyzing your life and “cut the fat” so to speak of your stress first! My life had become a factory of stress. My job was killing me. See my post from earlier this week if you want to know more about that.

My job had gotten me in such an unhealthy routine that I was so drained that I didn’t have time for caring for myself. All my self care energy was out the window. All my energy to cook healthy home-cooked meals gone. Now look at what that is for you. Now I know realistically, not everyone can just up and quit their job (I want to insert thanks to my wonderful and incredibly supportive husband here). Or maybe your stressor is a person, not a job. In that case I highly highly suggest seeking out Jay Shetty’s Podcast On Purpose, Episode 16: 4 Types of Negative People and How to Deal With Them. Maybe your stressor is a hard family issue or a past trauma. Whatever it is, spend the time to research and figure out how to navigate it. When you’re mentally whole and focused, then you can begin to focus on weight loss.

My weight loss started with the keto diet. I made a video on starting keto. I will link up to it here. After I had lost 40 pounds, I started doing traditional diet and exercise. But it’s because I was in a mental space that I could rationally do it.

Changes don’t happen overnight. They take a lot of time and energy, but they can be so worth it. Self care is important and you are valuable. Give yourself the time and energy you deserve. I now weigh in at 189 pounds. I’ve lost at least 55 pounds and I’ve completely corrected my A1C for the first time in my life by changing my mind, not my body.

I hope you enjoyed today’s post. Continue following along in May for more mental health tips!

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

May is Mental Health Month - The Best App for Breathing Technique and Meditation/Mindfulness

I am so stoked at the positive feedback I’ve been getting regarding my Mental Health Month posts and I really want to keep up with continuing to mainly post for mental health advocacy this month. Today I want to talk about a super helpful app for enhancing your daily mindfulness and breathing techniques. It’s totally free. It’s available on iOS and android phones. It’s an absolute must have for a beginning or continuing mindfulness journey.

The app is called “Breathing App” and it was created by Deepak Chopra and Eddie Stern. Deepak is renowned as an expert in mindfulness techniques and Eddie is a yogi. I’d simply like to link to Eddie’s site for more information on the app and also download links for the app. It’s such a powerful tool that I don’t want to mince words and I would much rather the creators explain their intentions quite personally. So, without further ado, please visit https://eddiestern.com/the-breathing-app/ and download The Breathing App today!!

Keep following along in May for more on my series during Mental Health Month.

Monday, May 6, 2019

May is Mental Health - 5 Easy Tips for Overcoming Depression

May is Mental Health Month. And continuing on my goal of advocacy this and every month, today I wanted to talk about something that is so very near and dear to my heart. I wanted to discuss strategies for overcoming and dealing with depression. Most people that I talk to have dealt with or will deal with depression at some point in their lives. It is estimated that 322 million people worldwide struggle with depression (Source: Our World Data).  
On a very personal level, I have dealt with my own mental health struggles and was first diagnosed with major depressive disorder and anxiety at the age of 14. I have had years of ups and downs. I have spent almost 20 years perfecting strategies for dealing with lows effectively. It is so important that we remove the stigma of mental illness and discuss these strategies openly. We need to move to a dialogue of acceptance of mental issues and discussion of mental issues. The more we stigmatize them and people internalize them, the greater the damage those wounds cause.
First of all, it’s important to realize that everyone has bad days. This is a normal part of life. Maybe you didn’t get the promotion you wanted or you experienced a breakup or maybe you are just having a hard time in general. Navigating life’s challenges can feel overwhelming and depression to me has always felt like quicksand. It’s sinking in and never making any movement towards getting out, just that feeling of sinking and losing footing. I want to try and give you that boost out of the sand. Usable tips you can input easily into your daily life. Tip one, make the realization that every situation is temporary. Think about where you were 6 months ago, a year ago, two years ago, five years ago. Think about the last time you had a low and how you felt in that moment. How you felt like maybe you would never get out and the fact that you DID! Think about other seemingly impossible situations at the time, and how you overcame them. Everyone I know has those moments they can look back on and it's important you remind yourself how strong you are in your low periods.
Every situation in life is temporary and fleeting. Where you are today may not be where you are tomorrow, the next day, or the day after. Putting a knowing and temporary mindset on your situation takes away some of the hold and grasp your depression has on you for trying to stick you and hold you in the sand.
Tip two, make a small manageable goal for yourself each day you are truly suffering. Nothing huge, it’s important that you stick to a small manageable goal, preferably rooted in self care. Self care items can range from reading a book for fun or doing your makeup, to something as small as getting out of bed or taking a shower. But, it’s important that the goal focuses on YOU. My go to is to usually put on makeup, because I think if you look good, you’ll feel good. But, self care will look different to different people. It's important that your goal not be focused on others. Because, if you are crabby and depressed and irritable, that means that you are not getting the care you need. And as corny as it sounds, if you can't take care of yourself, you can't take care of others either.
Tip three, when you need help, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE don’t be afraid to seek help. If you are losing hope, please seek help. You can call the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 24/7. If you Google it, you can even chat with them online if you have phobia of phone calls like so many of us do nowadays. There is no shame is reaching out for help. Call a friend, a family member, really anyone you trust, and ask for help. Go see your doctor. I mean it when I tell my friends that I’m here for them. If you need mental health services, it’s as easy as Googling, “Mental health services near me” or clicking this link and letting me type it for you. Lol. Never be ashamed or embarrassed about seeking therapy. I’ve been in and out of therapy many times for many different reasons. And depending on your issues, there are different therapists to help you navigate different problems you face in life. Get help. Nowadays, you can even find an online therapist. You don’t even have to leave your house to get help so no obstacle you’re experiencing is going to hold you back.
Tip four goes along with tip three, don't be afraid or embarrassed of taking medications if that's what you need. You will have people tell you the cure all is going outside or doing this or that, and sure some of that can help, but sometimes what you NEED is medication because of a chemical imbalance. You wouldn't shame someone for having a cast on a broken leg, it is so very important that we do not shame folks for taking necessary medications for mental health. I take medication daily with zero shame, guilt, and if you do, too; I'm proud of you for taking the steps you need for self-care.
Tip five, planning something or caring for something can give you a reason when you feel like you don’t have one. Gardening is a very cheap and easy hobby that can be done no matter the size constraints of your space. You just need light, water, a pot, a seed or plant, and some dirt. Caring for a plant can give you a reason beyond yourself to get out of bed in the morning. You know you have to get up and water your plant. Some other suggestions are a beta or gold fish. Taking care of a low maintenance living thing can give you a reason to get out of bed. NOTE: I do not recommend getting a high maintenance living being if you are in a deep depression such as a cat, dog, otherwise. It is never or rarely a good idea. Think low maintenance, but purposeful.
If you don’t feel comfortable taking on a living thing, another thing you can do is immerse yourself in a plan. Plan a future trip for yourself. It can be a trip you make this weekend, in ten years, or a life goal, but having something to look forward to and think about that is a positive force in your life can help you shift out of a negative space.
I hope that you guys find these tips helpful and that you can use them in your daily life when you’re experiencing lows. Check back in on the blog this month for more May Mental Health Month posts!

Sunday, May 5, 2019

May is Mental Health Month - Tips for leaving a job

In honor of Mental Health Month, I've decided to resurface in the blog world and talk about what I'm passionate about currently: taking care of yourself! My mental health is my number one focus at the moment and I've been really quiet on the blog and taken a lot of time for myself as I sort myself out and take care of numero uno. At the same time, I've done some really impressive things that I'd like to share with you guys and hope that you can use.

Last year, I left my job. I was miserable. I worked a job where I was underappreciated, undervalued, and abused by one of the bosses. I will say it time and time again, but the relationship that was had with this toxic person was the equivalent of an abusive relationship. I know because I've had one of those, too, but that's for another day. I want to talk about the decision to leave a really great paying job that is draining your soul. If you're reading this and you know that your job is killing you slowly, but you don't know where to start or how to leave, let's talk about how you can do it in a way that makes sense. First, you need to make a plan. What are your main concerns about leaving your job. Is it money? Is it healthcare? Sit down and make a budget. Find out your deficit and find out how you can make it up or if you even need to. Figure out the numbers that you can cut. That you can truly live without. Extra subscriptions, trips to the salon, things like this, cut the fat where you can.Figure out a way to get insurance outside of your job.

For us, babysitting expenses were gone immediately. That made up nearly all of the deficit. If you still have a deficit, look for another job or a hustle that genuinely interests you. Remember, you've just figured out exactly how much you need, so you don't need to go out and take on the world or take on exactly the same kind of job you just had unless that is part of your life dream. Maybe it is! That's fine. This is your dream world, live it!

Next, know that this is a leap of faith move, but it is a rewarding one. You can expect to feel fear and anxiety and worry and all of these normal feelings. You can worry and want to go back but DON'T. You are leaving for a reason! Make your plan, stick to it, and have faith in yourself that you are intelligent enough to have figured out your next move and you are smart enough to make it.

Before you leave, save up a small nest egg for yourself if you are moving on to a new venture. You can expect that it will take you at least a month to decompress from the drain of your old job. To get into the groove of a new world. This is all to be expected, but your mental health needs to be your number one priority. And even though your job is a drain, you have to remember you have done it this long and give yourself a precise end date that is firm that you WILL NOT go past. This is important. You have to get set up to leave and LEAVE!

Next, if you are making the move from working to staying at home all the time, you can easily fall into what I call the "at home slump". It's a depression that I've found is specific to staying at home. Staying at home can be isolating, especially if you are cutting down on income and don't have as much money for doing fun things any longer. It's important to get yourself into a routine that works for you and set daily intentions. One thing all mental health advocates can agree upon is that meditation works and setting aside time for yourself and meditating daily can improve your focus and your mental health. Start off with 1-2 minutes a day, and then slowly work up to 15 minutes. 15 minutes a day of meditation will help improve your life tenfold. Trust me. My daily routine includes meditation, gardening, daily walking or yoga, household chores, and more. These keep me busy and they are active roles in my household. You need to figure out what's needed and what works for you!

I sincerely hope that these tips help you and that you stay tuned in May as I continue on the journey of giving mental health tips and tips for what works for me!

May is Mental Health Month - Spiritual Guides that are helping my journey

May is Mental Health Month. I am dedicating the majority of my posts in May to discussing mental health. It is so important that we keep an ...