Ways I’m Focusing On Mental Health in 2018

These days we are hearing a lot about mental health. It is a very important topic that should not be overlooked and is a topic near to my heart. For my 9 to 5 I work with a lot of individuals with needs in the area of mental health. For the purpose of this blog post, when I say mental health, I am not referring to mental illness but rather mental fatigue, stress, and clarity.

Way back in January, I made a commitment to focus on healthy living in 2018. Instead of making a resolution, I decided to pick a theme for the year instead. You can read that post here. Now, here we are in June and I have only gotten to my third topic. Sometimes things don’t go as planned, but that’s ok. I am getting back on track with my blog and starting with an area that I should have focused more on over the last several months.

Last week I posted about life getting insanely crazy in March and my struggle to stay afloat with my blog and boutique (read about this here). I thought discussing mental health may be a good place to start given the circumstances of life for me right now. Recently, I had a challenge presented that made me really evaluate what is important to me in life which in turn made me begin to think about what I need to be doing in order to think clearly about decisions I needed to make. As you will see, for me, mental health and spiritual health go hand in hand; however, I will be focusing a post solely on spiritual health in the future. You will see components of that throughout this post though. So here they are, ways I am focusing on metal health in 2018.

1. Remembering what’s important in my life

For me this is simple, my faith and my family are number one. Period. It is easy to get distracted with schedules and finances, but when it comes right down to it, as long as these 2 things are my focus, everything else falls into place. Things are not always easy, but focusing on the important things make it easier to get through challenges of life. It also brings things into perspective. Maybe I didn’t get to everything on my to do list today, but if I have spent my quiet time with the Lord and have taken care of my family, then I have done everything that is important and I can rest easy in that. There will be time tomorrow to get everything else done.

2. Staying in God’s Word and in Prayer

When I am in God’s Word and in prayer, the trials of this life are much easier to bear. I realize that I am not walking through this life alone and when I act like I am, my mental health suffers. I become overwhelmed and stressed out. When I adjust my focus back to the Lord and give Him my burdens, I am so relieved. This doesn’t mean that everything in life becomes fixed, but it does mean I no longer feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders.

3. Knowing when to say no

This is a challenge for me. I like to make people happy and I have a problem saying no when I am asked to take on more responsibility. I have learned the hard way that I can’t do it all. I am learning to go back to number one on my list when asked to do more. If what I am being asked to do will shift my focus from my top priorities or leave no time for them, I really need to consider saying no.

Sometimes this means saying no to things we consider good, like another Bible Study at church or an opportunity to make more money. Although there is nothing wrong with these things and they may even at time be beneficial, there are times when adding one more thing to an already packed schedule or working more hours and taking time away from my family will hinder rather than benefit my family.

4. Drink plenty of water and eat healthy

Boy, this is an area of my life that I have been really trying to work on and I will be discussing this topic more in depth in the future. Drinking water and eating health give my brain what it needs to think more clearly. When I am eating right, I don’t go through that mid afternoon fog and I have more energy to get everything done on my to do list. This in turn reduces my stress level as well, because things do not pile up and become overwhelming.

5. Decluttering my house

Clutter drives me crazy and my house has become way too cluttered over this last year. When I am unorganized I definitely feel more stress. Jerry and I have committed to decluttering and reorganizing this summer. We are also going to have a yard sale, which I agreed to reluctantly a few months ago. I am not a huge fan of the extra work and would rather just give stuff away. However, we are trying to pay off some bills, so Jerry and I agreed to give it a go. Now that we are getting closer, I am actually feeling really motivated and excited about it. The boys are on board too and are looking forward to selling some of their old toys, and being able to put the money they earn towards a new game they want.

6. Finding time to relax and do something I enjoy

This one is hard for me too. I have a really hard time relaxing. I used to think my parents were crazy when they would tell me this very same thing, but now I totally understand. I must have gotten the “gotta keep busy, not time to stop” gene from them. Although this is an incredible blessing most of the time, I need to make myself stop on occasion. Even when watching t.v. or a movie at home, I find myself getting up to do things around the house. We always have so much going on and I feel like I need to be working on something all the time.

I am trying to make more of a conscious effort to do a little something I relaxing each week like going for a walk in the evening, reading a book, or writing. Another thing I started doing once every couple moths is getting a facial. Originally I started getting them because I was having a lot of difficulty with acne, but I really enjoy them and look forward to that hour of doing absolutely nothing. This is good for me because I literally have to slow down for a few moments, there is no laundry to do or dinner to cook while I am getting a facial. So it’s beneficial for multiple reasons.

What are things you do to improve your own mental health?

Modestly Beautiful

I have been mulling over this topic for a while now and wasn’t quite sure how I would start it off, I guess the best place to start is just by sharing what is on my heart. I, like most girls have always wanted to be beautiful. There are many times in my life that I have felt far from beautiful and then there have been times where I truly have felt beautiful. I think this is normal, as we all go through seasons in our lives. I grew up in the 90s and 00s where Jennifer Anniston’s stick figure and board straight hair were the very essence of what society called beautiful. It was difficult during that time for a girl with curves and wavy hair. However, I made it through, unscathed for the most part, with a better understanding of how to work with what I had rather than trying to achieve the impossible and all the while trying to accomplish this goal modestly.

A couple of months ago I was at youth on Friday evening (my husband leads youth at our church) when a young girl told me that she aspired to be like me. Whoa. She went on to tell me that I was beautiful and always looked put together (maybe not in these exact words, but it was what she meant). Talk about a humbling experience. Realizing that the choices you make about what you wear and how you act are being watched by these young adults. You see, I have all sons. Truly I could probably walk out of my room wearing a potato sack and they wouldn’t bat an eyelash. What I choose to put on each day is not because I have daughters at home watching what I wear. What I choose to put on each day is a representation of my walk with the Lord, wanting to honor my husband, and wanting to look appropriate for work or church.

This is the goal I hope to accomplish with Lydia & Lilac. Providing a selection of clothing that will make women feel and look beautiful and that will also honor the Lord. When you look through our collection or watch our sneak peeks on YouTube, you will see that we sometimes make suggestions on what to pair a dress with (a cami, a sweater, leggings, etc.). This is because we are sometimes provided clothing by our vendors that may be on the shorter side or low cut. However, most of the time you will find that out clothing is modest and appropriate for work, Church, etc. We desire to honor God through our clothing options, because we live in a society where this is becoming more difficult to find.

We have a responsibility as Christian women to dress in a God honoring way and set a godly example for the young girls in our churches today. When this young lady said this to me, it was a reminder that just because I don’t have daughters, doesn’t mean that there aren’t girls out there watching how I present myself and I can guarantee that they are watching you as well. The truth is they watch more than what’s on the outside, they watch our actions and they hear our words. Are we displaying the beauty of Christ through a gentle and quiet spirit (which does not mean to be a weak woman without a voice…but more on that at another time)? Are we displaying a look that is God honoring? Take some time to reflect on this today and join me in a conscious effort to set forth a godly example for these young girls with our actions, in our words, and in our dress.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Proverbs 31:30

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 1Peter 3:3-4

Ways We’re Making Our Finances Healthy

This year, instead of making a resolution for the the new year, I decided to choose a theme. You can read more about this here. Because my theme for the year is healthy living, I would like to dedicate a post each month on what I am working on and how it relates to my theme. This month, Jerry and are really looking closer at our finances. We have some bills we need to pay off and we need to find ways to save money. These are some of these things we are focusing on to get our finances healthy and they have already been paying off. We are hoping some of these tips will be helpful to you as well. If you have any other ideas for us, please comment! Let’s get started Lovelies.

1. Taking my calculator to the grocery store.

Talk about a wake up call! When I am not calculating what I am spending at the grocery store, it is so easy to just throw any and everything in the cart. Before I know it, I have spent way more than I intended too. Just this simple strategy has been a huge help. Knowing exactly how much I am spending and how close I am to my budget helps deter me from overspending and adding all those little extra things that I don’t really need.

2. Eating out only once a week.

I love to eat out, I’ll admit it. With both of us in grad school, parenting, and our commitments to church, we have been eating out or getting take out way to much. Plus eating out with a family of 5 costs a fortune! Especially when 2 of our boys eat as much as grown men! Fortunately, I finished up my 2nd masters in December and Jerry will be finished with his this summer! So there has been some relief for our busy schedules, with more in the near future. By committing to eating out only once a week, we are saving a lot of money.

3. Making our lattes at home.

On top of my terrible eating out addiction, I have a coffee addiction too. A $4 latte everyday really begins to add up. For Christmas I received a little stove top espresso maker, which I love! (This is the one I got The Original Bialetti Moka Express Made in Italy 3-Cup Stovetop Espresso Maker with Patented Valve) This has made making lattes at home simple and fun. I have been experimenting with different syrups and have also started watching videos on how to do latte art. So I’m saving money and having fun with this one!

4. Finding free ways to have fun.

We have had Disney passes for the last two years, which we have thoroughly enjoyed. However, we realize that in order to save money, the passes need to go. Instead we are looking for ways to have fun for free (or at least for very little). We love to be outdoors, so we are looking forward to going to parks , kayaking, and going to local events that cost little to no money.

5. Getting creative with things we already have around the house.

Finally, we are looking at ways we can reuse and repurpose things we already have around the house. For example, we are looking at repurposing some old wood to be make backdrops for product photography.

6. Keeping our bills organized with a notebook.

For this one, I have to give my mom the credit. When Jerry and I first got married, my mom showed me how she kept track of the bills with a notebook. This way she knew exactly what was coming in and what was going out. Over the years with online banking, I got away from this. However, I realize how important it is to keep better track, so I dusted off my notebook and am using it again! This has helped give me a better picture of our finances as a whole and I plan to continue to use this method for years to come!

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My Theme for 2018

The idea of creating a theme for the new year instead of a resolution is one that has been popping up all over the blogging community. I first read an article on this several weeks ago and thought to myself, “sounds interesting.” You can read the first blog I read about themes for the new year over at joi-knows-how.com. I have never been one to really make New Years resolutions. It’s not that I’m against them or anything (unlike my husband who made a resolution to not have New Years resolutions anymore and he has stuck to it ever since! LOL), but I just don’t really stick with them. Instead I find myself creating goals, getting myself in check, and reflecting throughout the year. This is why the thought of a theme is so alluring.

You may be wondering to yourself what exactly I’m talking about. You are not alone in this. I didn’t really get the whole theme idea at first either. Basically a theme for the upcoming year means choosing an area of focus and incorporating changes into your life that build upon that focus. For example some of the themes floating around out there focus on self care, financial freedom, or health. Those who are choosing themes are not creating goals per say, but rather incorporating many things into their daily lives that represent their theme. Let’s delve a little deeper by taking a closer look at my theme for this year, healthy living.

I’m choosing this theme because it literally encompasses all aspects of my life physically, spiritually, and mentally. 2017 has been an absolute whirlwind in which all things healthy have fallen to the wayside. Truth is I’ve been so busy trying to get through each day that surviving became my only focus. This probably has a lot to do with finishing up my second masters degree, launching a business, and starting a blog all the while keeping up with my other commitments and responsibilities. Now that I’m finished with my degree I hope to have more time to focus on other areas of my life. This year I don’t want to just survive, I want to grow and thrive!

By focusing on healthy living, I’m not just talking about eating well and exercising (although this will be a part of my theme for this year as well). For me getting healthy goes beyond this, I want healthy living to seep into everything I do. I’m going to take a closer look at getting our finances on track, spending more time in God’s Word, reading a book (or 2), writing, getting more rest, drinking more water, spending more time investing in my relationships, and the list could go on! See, by choosing a theme instead of a resolution, I can concentrate on so much more. I will feel successful any time I do something that incorporates my theme. With a theme for the new year, success doesn’t come at the end when I check off the boxes, success comes each time I take a step in the right direction! How bout you? Are you making a resolution or going with a theme this year?

Happy New Year!

The Reasons Why I’m Shopping Small this Christmas and Why You Should Too!

I love shopping for others during the holidays. Giving gifts is a way to show someone else that you care for them. And yes, I will be dressing in my Christmas attire, heading out during the wee hours of the morning on Black Friday, and checking off a few of my boxes on my Christmas list. After all, shopping Black Friday has become a tradition for the girls in my family. However, this year I will be shopping small as much as I can! Why, you ask? Read on to find out my friend!

I get to support someone’s dream. You see, each small business represents someone dream. There is always a person, a family, a story behind each one. Our family loves these stories! We love that each time we make a purchase from the small shops we have grown to love, we are supporting someone’s dream and helping it become a reality! What a fantastic feeling!

You find unique items you can’t find anywhere else. Of course there will Buzz-Saw Louie at every store and everyone you know will be getting one (yes that is a Veggie Tales reference! If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can click here.), but what about giving something different for a change? My sister is the best gift giver ever! She always finds something thoughtful and unique. I have learned so much from her over the years and have really been trying to put more thought into what I give. You know, not just giving to give. Shopping small gives me options for gift giving that I simply can’t get in department stores.

I can finally find something for the difficult ones. Let’s face it, some people are just hard to shop for. Because small businesses have unique products, I’m able to find something for those who want things in even the most unique niche.

Many small businesses are now located online. Honestly, a lot of the small businesses I will be buying from this year are online. This is great for me, because I cannot stand the traffic this time of year! Shopping online means I don’t have to worry about traffic at all. In fact I’m able to do most of my shopping after my boys are tucked snuggly in their beds and from the comfort of my couch. Score!

There are so many reasons to shop small this holiday season and we only scratched the surface. If your looking for gifts for her this year, check out lydiaandlilac.com today! What are some of your reasons for shopping small this year?