4 Ways to Address Your Anxieties About Starting a Family

4 Ways to Address Anxieties about Starting a Family Wow, you guys, have I missed blogging! This unexpected blog break went longer than I anticipated. These past few months have been filled with wedding planning and enjoying the summer with my family, but I can't wait to get back into a regular blog routine. Today, I'm super excited to have Kayla Matthews from Productivity Theory sharing some great ways to address anxieties about starting a family. Caleb and I fall into the absolutely-we-want-children category, but I have some friends who are still on the fence. Undecided or not, these four tactics are a must when it comes to deciding to start a family. Be sure to leave some comments on what you all think!


It seems like there are two types of couples in the world: Couples who are absolutely sure they want children and couples who are absolutely sure they do not want kids. In reality, there’s also the category of couples who can’t decide whether or not they want kids.

It makes sense to be in the undecided category. Children can simultaneously be a tremendous blessing and a heavy burden. Child-rearing is not for everyone. There are many concerns that need to be addressed before you take the jump and decide to start a family. Everything from financial planning to discipline techniques will cross your mind as you consider having kids. However, there are ways to confront and dispel your anxieties. If you don’t know whether or not you should start a family, start by addressing your concerns with these four tactics.

1. Involve Your Partner

You definitely must involve your partner in your decision making process. If you are on the fence about having kids, you need to see where his feelings lie. He may surprise you and be totally on board with having kids, or maybe he has no desire whatsoever. If you haven’t had the “when are we having babies” conversation yet, the time is now!

As soon as you figure out what your partner wants, or if he even knows what he wants, the process will be a little easier. Plan your family together. Talk through all of your anxieties. Is this the right time for you? Will there ever be a right time? Discuss what frightens you about children and discuss what excites you about having kids. Talk about what you want your lives to look like in 10 years. Are there kids in the picture? Are you happily married and childless? If you are undecided, a long conversation about what you and your partner want is just what you need.

Also, before you start a family, you need to be sure that your relationship with your partner is in a healthy place. Plan practical ways to nurture your marriage while raising children. If there are any signs of abuse, be it verbal, emotional or physical, you cannot have children. An abusive environment is not a safe place for babies and it’s certainly not safe for the person taking the abuse. Put your relationship’s health first before considering having children.

2. Observe Your Friends With Kids

Chances are strong that you have good friends who already started their families. They may absolutely love being parents. Good for them! You already know their outward opinions. What you need to do is have an open and raw conversation with them.

What is parenthood really like? When will you get past the sleepless nights and, really, how bad is potty-training? They will probably say the kids are worth all of it. Of course it is worth it for those parents because they truly love their kids. Be sure to push them to be honest. What’s worth it to them may not be worth it to you.

Don’t just talk to those friends of yours. Observe them. Do they seem happy overall? Do they seem run down, worn out and just plain tired? To an extent, these are symptoms of parenthood, but are you willing to go through that?

3. Plan Financially

Do some smart financial planning as you consider starting a family. A huge anxiety for couples who can’t decide if they want kids is the financial burden. A child costs a lot of money to raise. A 2010 USDA report on Expenditures on Children by Families says that it can cost anywhere from $8,480 to $23,690, depending on the age of the child. Ask yourself if you are in a good financial position to raise a child. Do you want to raise a family on one income or two? Plan carefully and use logic and reason to think through this concern.

4. Do Your Research

Think about all of the fears you harbor about having a baby. Labor, long nights with no sleep, breastfeeding and even diaper-changing might discourage you from starting a family. Those things are difficult to handle, but certainly not impossible. Read books, follow mommy blogs and ask for advice.

You don’t have to be an expert before you have a baby. There are plenty of resources out there for parents. The internet has everything you need to make an informed decision about even the most specific events. For example, this video checklist tells new parents everything they should consider for their child’s first road trip. You can’t get much more specific than that!

If you’re undecided, someday you’ll need to make a decision. However, there’s nothing wrong with taking the time you need to research, plan and carefully consider starting a family!

What about you? Do you want to start a family? Or are you still on the fence?

Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews is a productivity blogger at ProductivityTheory.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter to read all of her latest posts!

Image by Viktor Hanacek

#RealTalk: Blogging Less Doesn't Make You a Bad Blogger

Attempt to live life first; make online updates an echo of that when there’s time. Blogging less doesn't make you a bad blogger. I haven't blogged in over a month.

And you know what? That's ok.

 

Honestly, just a few months ago, the thought of not blogging for even a week was hard for me to wrap my mind around. We're told that to have a successful blog we need to:

1. Be active on ALL social media

2. Have a new blog post up 3-5 times a week (but the more frequent, the better)

3. Be constantly thinking up ideas of what to blog about

But the truth is, most of us don't have the time to do all of that. And if we try to do it all (while maintaining healthy relationships with friends and family, managing school/work, raising children, running errands, cooking food, exercising....basically living a life) we might not put our 100% best into what we're sharing with the world.

Now don't get me wrong, I give major props to all you full-time bloggers! I'm so inspired by you guys and happy that you've found something you love and are doing it! (and making some extra moo-lah, too $$$) ?

But honestly, I haven't even thought much about blogging this past month. I was just so engrossed with school, spending time with family, and working on our Kickstarter project.

Attempt to live life first; make online updates an echo of that when there’s time. Blogging less doesn't make you a bad blogger.

It wasn't until people at school started telling me how much they love my blog that I realized, "Oh no, am I a bad blogger? I haven't blogged in so long. People are counting on me, and I'm letting them down."

Insert mini panic attack.

Five days later, on a surprisingly warm sunny day, I sat outside doing absolutely nothing. It was during that quiet time, where I paused from all of life's demands, that I realized three things:

1. I've developed a love-hate relationship with technology. I don't like always being tied to my phone and having to constantly keep up to date with Twitter, post my life on Instagram and Snapchat, all while growing my Facebook page and remembering to pin to Pinterest. So, I'm adopting a new philosophy:

Attempt to live life first; make online updates an echo of that when there's time.

What if we spent just half the time we do on the internet and social media on something else? What new adventures would we have? What relationships would improve? I'm not saying to swear off of internet and social media completely, but I do believe in being intentional about how we interact with it—directing and using it for good, rather than letting it direct our time.

2. Blogging less doesn't make me a bad blogger. I am going to blog less, but it will be consistent because I do love blogging! I'm aiming for 2-4 posts a week to keep burnout at bay.

3. Blog post ideas are everywhere. You don't have to sit at your desk to make a list of blog post ideas. The best ones seem to hit you when you're taking a walk, talking with a friend, listening to a lecture, or just observing people in the street. Those ideas tend to be the most unique as well.

Attempt to live life first; make online updates an echo of that when there’s time. Blogging less doesn't make you a bad blogger.

I don't regret not blogging for a month. I feel like I've come out of my break refreshed with a new outlook, and that makes me excited! Frequent blogging doesn't make you a good blogger. Being your authentic self, sharing ideas, encouraging others to grow and learn—that's my definition of good blogging.

So, if my updates seem quiet online, it's because I'm engrossed in simply living. ✌️

What about you? I want to hear your thoughts! How often do you blog? Do you feel like it's the right frequency for you?

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Set Goals, Not Resolutions // My Word for 2016

Set goals, not resolutions It's time we lose the long list of resolutions.

You know, the ones that seem so appealing, promising yourself a better life at the end of 365 (or in this case, 366) days. The ones that the majority of people forget less than a quarter into the new year?

Or maybe you're one those who laugh at the thought of resolutions. Most of those so-called resolutions are silly, nebulous things anyways. “I’m going to give up carbohydrates.” “I’m going to exercise more.”

This year, instead of setting resolutions that you're likely to break, try daily and weekly goals to help keep you focused. The difference here is that one's a hope, and one's a plan.

And if goals are still too much for you, then at least do this one thing:

Choose a word for the year.

Just one word. Because a single word can create a longer lasting change than a dozen New Year's resolutions.

Last year I wrote about my word for 2015: Actualize. My aim for the year was to "make real or concrete; give reality or substance to" my dreams. I even simplified my goals down into six categories to make them easier to actualize.

  • Blog
  • Relationships
  • Faith
  • Creativity
  • Health
  • Business

Overall, 2015 was a pretty good year :) Did I achieve all my goals? No. Is that ok? Of course! Whether I achieve them all or not isn’t the point at all: all that matters is that I’m working towards what makes me happy.

My Word for 2016

But now that 2015 is over and we're already more than a week into 2016, it's time for me to come up with a new word. It wasn't easy.

For one thing, I needed a word that would encompass all that I wanted 2016 to be. I also needed it to create a spark in me that could carry throughout the entire year.

Then I encountered another problem! I began to have too many options :( Words began to flood my brain.

Pause. 

Ease.

Simplify.

Love.

Peace.

Mindfulness.

What was I going to do??? I took a little break to get a glass of water and that's when it hit me.

Serenity // the state or quality of being serene; calm; tranquil

Serenity. The perfect combination of all those other words I was considering before. (I also realized that it's one of Pantone's Color(s) of the Year for 2016. That's probably why it popped into my head!)

Calm. Peaceful. Untroubled.

This word is calling me to step away. Breathe. Focus. Take time to choose.

It calls for a life of balance; the perfect counterpoint to the fast-paced, fractured and hurried lives we live.

Because really. What's the rush?

I want to live with ease. With so many things calling for my attention, what and who really matters? Is the perfectionist inside me willing to simply let go, and just be?

This year, it's my intention to be an activator of life instead of a passive bystander. I want to live with serenity.

Now it's your turn. Choose a word. It's better than a New Year's Resolution.

P.S. If you need some ideas, check out MyOneWord.org.

What's your word for 2016? Share it in the comments below!

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How to Get Out of Any Rut and Stay Inspired

Here are 10 strategies you can use to stay inspired when you feel down. Perhaps they can help you through rough times. I hope you all had a great Christmas spent with those you love :) I've been enjoying every minute of being home. As we gear up for a new year (already?!), sometimes we need a little push to get and stay inspired. Giving us some amazing advice to do so today is blogger Kayla Matthews from Productivity Theory. She's guest posted on the blog before, sharing great tips for getting in the habit of getting up earlier and making time for hobbies while working full time. Check them out!


If you’ve ever found yourself in one of life’s ruts, you know it can be somewhat difficult to bounce back to your normal, happy self. Maybe you’ve just been stressed at work or have been dealing with additional responsibilities in your personal life. Whatever it is, there’s no rut a positive attitude and bit of inspirational material can’t fix!

Here are 10 strategies you can use to stay inspired when you feel down. Perhaps they can help you through those rough times.

1. Replace Bad Thoughts With Good Ones

Every time you catch yourself thinking something negative, replace it with a positive thought. For instance, if you catch yourself ruminating on a mistake you made in the past, stop yourself and replace that thought with “I’m allowed to make mistakes. What’s done is done, and it’s time for me to move forward.”

Keep track of what negative thoughts haunt you the most and develop a list of positive affirmations to counter them. With enough practice, positive thinking will become second nature.

2. Make Positive Lists

Making lists is another great exercise in positive thinking. Once a day or whenever you need a little pick-me-up, challenge yourself to list 10 things you’re grateful for or 10 things you like about yourself.

Having a hard time getting in the habit? Ask a friend to hold you accountable. Make a pact that you’ll text each other something you’re grateful for every day.

3. Set SMART Goals

Setting goals is a great way to stay motivated. Increase your chances of success by setting SMART — specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely — goals.

Remember to set both short- and long-term goals. Long-term goals are the big things that keep you inspired, such as graduating from college or buying a house. Focusing on long-term goals alone can be overwhelming, though. Short-term goals — such as going to bed by midnight all week or passing calculus — are the stepping stones that help you achieve those long-term goals.

4. Listen to Music

Music can be a powerful motivating force! Find the music that inspires you, whether it’s hip-hop or movie soundtracks, and use it to get yourself going. Try putting together a playlist to energize yourself as you work toward your goals.

5. Do Something Creative

It’s important to set aside time for creativity. Nurture your inspiration and turn it into something tangible. Regardless of your skill level, creative self-expression is the perfect way to get your thoughts and feelings out of your head and into a more shareable form.

Whether you write, draw, craft or code, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of accomplishment as you look over your own creation after finishing it.

6. Learn a New Skill

Learning new skills can do wonders for your confidence. Pick something that’s fun and interesting to you. Maybe you’ve always wanted to try skateboarding, or perhaps you’ve been meaning to pick up a new language or teach yourself to code. Why not start now?

7. Know When to Ask for Help

There’s no shame in asking for help. In fact, knowing when and how to ask for help is a valuable skill that everyone should learn!

There’s a common misconception that asking for help takes away from your independence, but that’s just not true. Karley and her service dog, Kaiser, are a perfect example of how getting the help you need can make you more independent, not less.

8. Find a Community

Seek out people who share your struggles. If you’re raising kids alone, join a support group for single parents. If you’re struggling with a chronic disease, find solace in a Facebook group for people who share your illness. Whatever your situation, there are sure to be other people going through something similar.

Learning how your peers deal with their challenges will give you ideas and inspiration for tackling you own. Plus, you’ll have people to confide in when things go awry.

9. Take a Break

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take some time to recuperate. Make the most of your lunch breaks, weekends and vacations. Instead of working through your lunch break or sleeping through the weekend, focus on taking care of yourself during your precious free time.

10. Update Your Resume

Even if you’re not planning on applying for a job anytime soon, updating your resume is a great way to remind yourself of what you’ve accomplished. Once you’re done sprucing up your resume, print it out on nice paper and keep it as a reminder of what you’re capable of.

The key to all of these strategies is to make them part of your routine. Don’t just pull them out during your darkest hour — make them into healthy habits and stay inspired for the rest of your life.

Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews is a productivity blogger at ProductivityTheory.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter to read all of her latest posts!

Top Gifts for Guys

 

*This post contains affiliate links*

Gift Ideas for Men
Gift Ideas for Men

Every year I struggle with what to get the guys in my life. Men are so simple, but that's what makes it hard. Most of the time they want something like tools (which I have no idea which one to get, they're so picky!), something expensive (like a TV or computer), or they simply want nothing at all! Thankfully, there are some options when it comes down to this. Here's some my favorite items for guys that would make great Christmas, birthday, or anniversary gifts.

1. A Stunning Watch | Price Varies

JORD makes incredibly gorgeous wooden watches. The Dover Series (pictured above) is perfect for the man who likes to build things. With gears in full view and structured style, this self-winding automatic watch is sure to be on his wrist day in and day out. Check out JORD's full collection to find the right watch style for the man in your life (and you ladies as well!). Order before December 20, 2015 to get it in time for Christmas!

I've also partnered with JORD to giveaway a limited quantity of e-gift cards worth $35 each for the holidays! So if you've had your eye on one of these lovely wood watches, be sure to enter to get in on the savings. Entering is easy; click the link below - it will ask you for your email and your favorite JORD watch (so many to choose from) once you hit enter, your code will be emailed directly to you!

Get your $35 e-gift card here!

2. Dollar Shave Club | $3 – $9 per month depending on blade preference

Guys tend to use the same razor blade over and over because they're so expensive to buy repeatedly. The Dollar Shave Club solved that problem. Every month they send four high-quality razor blades straight to your door at an affordable price. The $6 razor is perfect and comes with free shipping! That’s less than you pay for Netflix! And as a bonus, women can use them too :) I got this for Caleb last year, and he loves it so much.

3. Gingham Tie | $19.99

A gingham tie is so classic and instantly brings an outfit up a notch. Get your man a nice tie to wear on some fancy dates with you. Or just dress up in your house. I mean, he’ll want to wear this tie even when he doesn’t have to.

4.Weekender Bag | $98

If your man travels often, consider gifting him a stylish, yet durable weekender bag. Everlane's quality is by far my top choice, as they show you transparent pricing right on their website. Meaning they show you how much it cost to make, and how much competitors are charging for the similar items. I have the reversible denim and black leather bag on my wishlist :)

5. Tommy John Trunks | $29 $26

Does your guy complain about, err, you know where? Consider gifting him something he'll be thankful for: super soft micro modal underwear. As with all Tommy John underwear, they come with a "No Wedgie Guarantee." No more complaints!

6. Thinsulate Gloves | $30 $11.99 Sale

Give your man a good, warm, stylish pair of gloves for the cold winter months. This pair features Thinsulate insulation, touchscreen friendly fingertips, ribbed cuffs, and a leather palm.

7. Box O' Balls | $9

Toss one of these balls into closets, gym bags, or smelly shoes and they'll do wonders to absorb noxious odors. Made of aromatic Eastern Red Cedar, they are a self-renewing non-endangered natural resource, meaning that they are reusable as well!

Shop more ideas for men below. Be sure to check out 75+ Stocking Suffer Ideas for Men!

 

The Perfect Last Minute Holiday Gift for the Ladies: JORD Wooden Watches

*I was compensated with a free product from woodwatches.com*

The perfect holiday gift for ladies! JORD WOOD WATCHES #JORDWATCH

I'm going to let you in on a secret.

Gift-giving is a real struggle for me.

It's not that I don't know what type of things they like, but rather, I just want to make sure that their gift is something that they truly love. Do you ever feel the same way?

Last month my beautiful friend Noemi lost the watch she wore every day. And when she told me, I knew immediately what the perfect gift for her would be: A wooden watch from JORD.

The perfect holiday gift for ladies! JORD WOOD WATCHES #JORDWATCH

You may remember how I gifted a JORD watch to my dad on Father's Day and was amazed at the wonderful craftsmanship. These watches are made from a variety of natural and sustainably sourced wood from all across the globe, are extremely lightweight, and have a crystal clear face. Absolutely beautiful!

The perfect holiday gift for ladies! JORD WOOD WATCHES #JORDWATCH

Gifting the watch to Noemi was so much fun–her face lite up like it was already Christmas morning! The Sidney Series in Maple and Rose Gold is absolutely gorgeous. She gets so many compliments on it. It even has a stopwatch built in! This is not your regular everyday watch; it’s a unique and stylish accessory.

The perfect holiday gift for ladies! JORD WOOD WATCHES #JORDWATCH

JORD prides themselves on their prompt delivery with their aim to get the watch to you within 1 – 3 days with free worldwide shipping. It comes in a gorgeous wooden keepsake box, and you can even have the watch sized beforehand so it can be worn immediately!

So if you're looking for the perfect last-minute holiday gift for a special lady (or man!) in your life, I highly recommend checking out JORD's collection. I gave my boyfriend the Dover Ebony and Copper watch and he loves it so much! That one is a self-winding automatic, meaning that there is no battery–just the fact that you wear it helps make the gears work (which you can see through the face of the watch too, btw).

The watch I have an eye on is the Frankie Zebrawood and Champagne watch. It is so luxurious and minimalistic!

I’ve also partnered with JORD to giveaway a limited quantity of e-gift cards worth $35 each for the holidays! So if you’ve had your eye on one of these lovely wood watches, be sure to enter to get in on the savings. Entering is easy; click the link below – it will ask you for your email and your favorite JORD watch (so many to choose from) once you hit enter, your code will be emailed directly to you!

Get your $35 e-gift card here!

Don't forget to share your pictures with the hashtag #JORDWATCH. Enjoy! ;)

Which JORD watch is your favorite? Share it with me in the comments below!

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Adult Coloring Books: Beautiful Fun at Any Age

adult coloring I've officially become part of the coloring craze. Just wanted to share that :)

Last month, a friend and I went to a free event at a local bookstore where they provided coloring pages and colored pencils to use to relax and have a good time. It was so much fun to sit down and get lost in the intricate designs and patterns.

Since then, I have had my eyes on Tropical World by Millie Marotta, and yesterday I gave in and finally purchased it. I found that I can listen to lectures much better when I'm coloring than if I'm distracted on my phone or computer.

Because adult coloring books are often marketed based on their therapeutic value, I definitely recommend it if you're looking for a simple, fun way to ease your mind and relax.

Not sure if you're ready to commit to a full on coloring book?  Try out the many free coloring pages online, giving you the freedom of not having to jump into purchasing a book. All you have to do is print them and color!

What do you think? Does coloring help you relax? Are you part of the coloring craze? Let me know in the comments below! :)

adult coloring

owl

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Five Frugal Fall Activities

Needing to save money for the holiday season? Make the most of the rest of your fall bucket list by enjoying these five frugal fall activities! Someone pinch me. Is it really November 2 already?! It still feels like it's early October and autumn was just beginning. But now the days are getting shorter, the air crisper, and I'm getting the urge to bake warm goods because there's a seasonal change up ahead. One where, from November to April, we hibernate in our cozy houses.

But don't let it happen just yet! There's still time to finish that fall bucket list and enjoy the last few warm days of the year. Yesterday, the temperature here got up into the mid-70s, and today's forecast is 81! Granted, that's more like summer weather, but still. Even if you're saving up for all the holiday shopping that'll happen within the next two months, you can still have loads of fun with those you love before winter hits.

To encourage you to get out and make the most of the last few days of autumn, here are my top five favorite frugal fall activities that show that you don't need lots of money to have a good time!

Five Frugal Fall Activities

1. Stroll through a cornfield maze with warm apple cider

While most cornfield mazes will have a cost, usually they are less than $10. That being said, many cornfield mazes are located at local farms or sites that have other frugal fall activities to do as well, making the trip well worth your dollar.

2. Make a twist on the classic caramel apple

Fall food is some of my favorite food. Use the abundance of apples available to experiment and bake some delicious desserts. You can go classic and try a bunch different toppings for your caramel apples or, you can add a twist and make an Apple and Cranberry Crumble. Chef Gordon Ramsay is one of the best, if not greatest, chefs in the world. So obviously this recipe is going to taste great if he's the one who created it, right? :)

3. Picnic and/or hammock in the park (or go camping!)

Although you may think of picnics as more of a spring or summer activity, the milder temperature and climate in fall can make for an enjoyable time outdoors. There's just something about getting out in nature while the leaves are changing. Soak up the beauty. Make some sandwiches and trail mix and head out to relax or have an adventure. Either way, be sure to take some deep breaths of the fall air.

4. Explore a new bike path

Biking is one of the best frugal fall activities because you don't have to worry about baking in the sun and sweating heavily when you're simply trying to get up a hill. If you're short on time, take your bikes out for a spin around the block after dinner. Or make a day out of it! Bring your bikes out to a local bike path that you've never been on and enjoy seeing the fall colors and your new adventure.

5. Attend a local community event

Many communities host fall fairs and festivals for free or a small price. I've found some of my favorite fall festivals just by going through the events that are being hosted on Facebook. You can also check out your newspaper or go online to your city website.

Hopefully this short list of frugal fall activities can inspire you to get out and enjoy the rest of fall without spending much money. I've found that the sweetest moments in life aren't found through material things, but by the people I spend time with and how we choose to spend that time together.

If you're still looking for more ways to save for this upcoming holiday season, using a free financial software to keep track of your finances is a great place to start!

How do you make the most of the fall season? What are some of your favorite frugal fall activities?

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Committing to a Daily #ActOfKindness

The goal is to do one simple act of kindness a day. Here are a few ideas to get you started: Gratitude. Kindness. Being caring towards others. These are the thoughts that have been lingering in the back of my mind for the past week, specifically kindness.

Have you ever noticed how a simple act of kindness, when done repeatedly and consistently, can become an expected act? Sometimes we can easily take these acts for granted.

For example, I have such a gentleman of a boyfriend that he opens every door for me. In fact, he insists on it (if I try opening it, he'll push it closed and then open it himself). Over time, I expected to have the door opened for me.

Same thing goes for holding the door open for another person when they're right behind you, so they don't get hit by the closing door. At busy times during the school day when everyone is entering and exiting a building, it's almost expected of you to be curious and make sure the door doesn't slam in someone's face. So what happens when the opposite happens?

Well, last week I was walking to class directly behind another girl. We were going the same speed, so it didn't make sense to pass her. I could tell that she had seen me and could also hear my footsteps. She opened the first of a set of doors we needed to go through to exit the building...and didn't hold it for me to get, resulting in my elbow getting bruised. Same thing happened with the second door. I wasn't angry, just a little annoyed.

As we approached the building our classes were in, I wondered if she'd hold the door if I was literally right behind her.

Nope.

She didn't hold any one of the three doors we went through. At this point I was pretty upset. I mean, how hard is it to just hold the door so I can grab it?

COMMITTING TO A DAILY #ACTOFKINDNESS

Later that evening I was thinking about how I had expected an act of courtesy. But how often do I display an act of kindness? That thought challenged me to make a change in my life:

A daily #ActOfKindness

This isn't a new idea, but it's something most people don't actively seek out to do. I found this blog post from the owner of Goldenrod Pastries (the adorable vegan/gluten-free bakery across the street!) was really inspiring. She said

"Leave a piece of cake or two, wrapped up, on someone’s porch. Text them later to say it’s there. They got so excited! Leave a miniature honey cake on a coworker’s desk with a sticky note saying ‘Happy Tuesday! It’s honey cake.’ Then she got excited." 

I love that!

My goal is to do one simple act of kindness a day, and I encourage you to do the same whenever you can! Here are a few ideas to get you started:

#ActsOfKindness Ideas

  • You don’t have to use a pastry like Angela did. Instead, leave their favorite drink, a magazine, or a handwritten letter.
  • Let someone go in front of you in line.
  • Tweet or Facebook message a genuine compliment to three people right now.
  • Leave some extra quarters in the laundry room.
  • Pay the tab for the person behind you.
  • Send flowers.
  • Write a thank you note to an old teacher who made a difference in your life.
  • Buy an inspirational book for a friend.
  • Help someone struggling with heavy bags.
  • Help an elderly neighbour carry the rubbish out.
  • Give another driver your parking spot.
  • Compliment a parent on how well-behaved their child is.
  • Offer a couple of hours of free babysitting to parents.
  • Rake your neighbor's yard.
  • Give up your seat for someone, not just the elderly.
  • Clean someone's windshield.
  • If you walk by a car with an expired parking meter, put a quarter in it.
  • Hold the door open for the person behind you.

So what are you waiting for? Get out there and do something nice.

What are some acts of kindness you do where you live?

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Why You Need a Commonplace Book

A commonplace book is a means of saving important information that you want to mark and keep for later. Happy Monday everyone! And Happy Birthday shoutout to my amazing daddy! :) I love you!

Today is my first day of classes for the semester, and my schedule is packed full. So forgive me if these next few weeks are a little unpredictable on the blog; I'm trying to figure out a good schedule for myself.

I started something new this past week that I really want to share with you:

A Commonplace Book.

I first heard about it from this article on 22 Habits That Will Make Your Life More Peaceful (it's number 7). Basically, it's a notebook / journal where you can collect, categorize, and curate anything you want to remember. It's a means of collecting and storing all those bits of information that make our lives interesting. It could be a photo, an essay, or a quote. Regardless, it’s important information that you want to mark and save for later.

For example, say you read a great article in a magazine and found a lot of takeaways and tips you want to remember. Rather than keeping the whole magazine because of one article (that you probably won't remember to open up again), write down what you want to remember in your commonplace book. This way, you'll have all your inspiration at your fingertips whenever you need it.

A commonplace book is a means of saving important information that you want to mark and keep for later.

I went and bought a black moleskine notebook to use as my commonplace book. You can organize your book however you'd like. Maybe you want to have sections such as Inspiration, Quotes, Tips, etc. Or maybe you want to write it logically, front to back. Whatever your method, make your commonplace book your very own.

The first thing I wrote in my commonplace book was all the bits of inspiration I gathered from reading my Darling magazines. These magazines are full of great stories! By collecting my favorite passages and sayings, I'm keeping my favorite pieces with me, even if I don't open the actual magazine as often.

Some of you may even opt to have digital commonplace books. Maybe it's a blog or even just a simple Google Doc or Evernote notebook that you keep everything in. Personally, I've found that having something tangible allows me to easily flip through the pages I've written in and remember things more often.

So what do you think? Does having a commonplace book sound like something you'd like to implement? Or do you already use one? If so, I'd love to know how you organize yours and what types of things you include in it! Let me know in the comments below! :)

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How to Make Time for Your Side Gig while Working Full Time

Let’s look at a few ways on how to make time throughout your day, fit a side-gig into a hectic life and make it into a regular habit. This past week has been busy! I'm all moved in back in Nebraska, and ready for school to start next Monday. Last week turned out to be a tech fast for me. I found myself not constantly being on social media (or my phone in general) and I only replied to urgent emails. It feels sooo good to do a digital detox, but I'm getting back into my blogging routine again this week! Today though, I'm super excited to have Kayla Matthews from Productivity Theory sharing some AMAZING tips on how to balance your side hobby along with the rest of your busy life. Be sure to leave some comments on what you all think!


Whether it’s blogging, starting a business, launching a Kickstarter, or something else, finding time for a side-project in addition to full-time work can be seriously hard. I recently read an article on the Huffington Post about how overwork and perfectionism can lead to burnout, and when you’re balancing two jobs at once, that’s twice as true.

So let’s look at a few ways how you can make time throughout your day, fit a side-gig into a hectic life and make it into a regular habit.

Do It in the Morning

Did you know morning people are happier? It’s true: science says so. Science also says that the best way to learn a new skill is by practicing first thing in the morning, after getting a good night’s sleep. So if you’re looking for a time to put in work on your side gig, the morning might just be the best time to do it.

If that sounds appealing to you, then try this: instead of rolling out of bed with just enough time to get ready for work, try going to bed earlier and waking up an hour or two before you need to. Make a pot of coffee, eat breakfast, and then sit down to work on your thing (whatever it is).

Doing so will let you start every day off on the right foot, doing what you enjoy the most, and will also help make sure your brain is up and humming at maximum power by the time you go to work.

Do It Over Lunch

Using your lunch-break at work to put in time on your side gig can be an amazing jump-starter. Your brain is already buzzing, you’ve got a built-in deadline and it makes a nice way to break up the day.

Just be careful that you don’t step on anyone’s toes, and make sure to follow all your company’s guidelines. For example, don’t send personal emails from your work-address or blog on a work-computer—bring a laptop and do your work from there instead.

Do It in the Evening

Working after work—as in, immediately, before you eat dinner or do anything else—can be another great way to find time. That’s probably why so many people use that time to hit the gym: once you get home and have the temptation of food and Netflix in front of you, it becomes a lot harder to haul yourself off the couch and go do stuff.

You’ll have to watch out for a few things here, though. First of all, you’ll want to eat a snack in the afternoon, or dinnertime hunger will make it tricky to focus on work. You’ll also probably want to talk with your friends and family in advance about how you’ll be switching up your schedule, so you’ll be “coming home” later—mentally and maybe literally.

Whatever You Choose, Stick With it

You can find a million articles that tell you when to work and how, but no one knows how you work better than you do. Pick a time in your day that works for you, use that time to focus on your side gig and try to do it at the same time every day.

Because I have one more science fact for you: It takes an average of 66 days to form a habit. That means the longer you do something, the easier it gets to do it.

Once you’ve made time, and committed to sticking with it, you stop having to “make time” at all.

Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews is a productivity blogger at ProductivityTheory.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter to read all of her latest posts!

Image by Kaboompics

I Will Flourish...In My Work

Flourish in the workplace // The Kardia Before we get into the post, can I just say that I love picnics? A few days ago, my family went to the park to eat a simple picnic supper. Seeing as we live in Minnesota, our park includes a lake and a beach (side note: I love living in the land of 10,000+ lakes!). It was so nice and relaxing to eat and talk while the sun glistened off the water. Simple moments like that are my favorite.

Anyways, back to the post! This month's Flourish post is all about how we plan to flourish in our work and careers. I love this prompt because every person will have a different goals and opinions. One person might apply it to their freelance business while another might apply it to their full-time blog or even to their day job. Whatever your reason, applying work ethic goals is always a good idea.


 10 Things I Am Grateful For:

  1. Rainy days
  2. Sweet friends
  3. Their dreams
  4. My dreams
  5. Birthdays
  6. Fundraisers
  7. Hope
  8. Grace
  9. Food
  10. Group text messages

I will flourish in my work / career this year by

Networking. Being a business major, I hear this all the time. But it's so true, and it even applies to blogging. Networking and reaching out to other people is a great way to expand your reach and meet others. I'm going to start putting more effort into networking by finding and connecting with others on social media as well as perfecting the art of small talk in real life.

Actively applying what I'm learning. I feel like I'm pretty good at doing this on a regular basis already, but it's something I want to continue. I love learning! If I learn something at work, like writing meeting minutes, I apply the skill of multitasking listening, writing, and talking all at once, to other areas of my life.

Taking time for personal development. Like I said, I love learning! I'd like to take more time to round out other areas of my life that I find beneficial to my future goals, such as making videos and doing styled photography.

Reflection:

Last month we wrote on how we planned to flourish in our daily routines. Streamlining my daily tasks helped a lot! I found that I had more hours to do things and felt less rushed. I unsubscribed from email newsletters I never read and single-tasked on important things. And now that I've been doing it for a month, it's become a habit! Yay!

Saying no and prioritizing things I say yes to is going to be a big thing as I head back to school. You get so bombarded with people asking you to help them with this or that. I hate saying no because it makes me feel bad. But I have to realize that my time is precious and that I need to focus on things that I put my full 100% into.

Overall, last month went really good! I did forget about setting my goals with rewards, but that's not that hard to start doing :)


Next month’s prompt is how you will flourish on your blog. Examples would include: steps to grow your blog, goals, your blog mission statement, etc. If you’re new to the linkup, you can find all of the details right here! I hope you join us sometime, because I’d love to read what you have to say!

If you’d like me to send you a reminder email the week before the linkup, sign up using the link below! I promise to only send you the reminder email and not spam you with random junk.

Sign up for the Flourish linkup email reminder


The linkup will go live the first Friday of every month at 6 am CST. You’ll be able to submit your take on the week’s prompt, as well as discover how other’s are planning to Flourish in the different aspects of their lives! My hope is that this linkup will encourage you to take steps, however big or small, towards becoming the best version of yourself. Don’t aim for perfection, but refine what works for you. Here’s to Flourishing in 2015!

[inlinkz_linkup id=552439 mode=1]

How are you flourishing this month?

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8 Reasons Why Authenticity is Vital for Bloggers

When people read a blog, they want to know that they are connecting with a real person. By showing your heart and being genuine, you open up a space where others can relate. I have a question for you.

How much do other's opinions affect your understanding of ‘who you are’ or ‘where you should be’ in life?

Usually the answer is: more than we can imagine.

I know this to be true because I used to struggle with it. Throughout high school and my first year of college, I just simply wanted to fit in with the crowd. 'Who I was' was usually an image of what was popular at the time. But it never felt right; it never felt like, me. I always felt like something was missing.

Over the course of the last year, I discovered a lot about who I am and what type of person I'd like to grow and become. It was the death of a girl I never knew that caused me to re-evaluate how I was living my life. She inspired me spread happiness wherever I go and live life to the fullest.

I want to be open, honest, and real; genuine. I want to be who I am, not someone I have to pretend to be for the approval of others. I desire a life of authenticity, simplicity, love, and grace.

I have also learned that the same applies to blogging. When people read a blog, they want to know that they are connecting with a real person. By showing your heart and being genuine, you open up a space where others can relate.

But there's something you need to know.

Being authentic isn’t always easy. In fact, it can be downright difficult. We are often swayed by the desire for others’ approval or to fit in. Vulnerability can be scary and uncomfortable, especially if we've been conditioned to only show the beautiful bits of our lives.

But it's worth it.

When we come across as being genuine, we're giving others the freedom and courage to be genuine also.

And although being authentic is important for every aspect of life, today I want to specifically share with you 8 reasons why authenticity is important for bloggers.

When people read a blog, they want to know that they are connecting with a real person. By showing your heart and being genuine, you open up a space where others can relate.

8 Reasons Why Authenticity is Vital for Bloggers

It Produces Consistency and a Clear Purpose

When a blogger determines to be authentic in their writing, all of their articles reflect the true heart of the blogger.

It Encourages Personal Growth

The more you live an authentic life, the more it's reflected to the words on your blog. By opening your heart and allowing yourself to be vulnerable, you're exposing yourself to new thoughts and ideas that cultivate self-growth.

It Provides a Safe Place

Readers love to know they can trust any site they are following. By preparing every post with the intention of being authentic, you'll win your readers hearts and support and show them that your blog is a place where they can be open and real as well.

Being You is What Sets You Apart from Everyone Else

The world is a big place, including the blogging one. Sometimes you might wonder how it's possible to stand out in a crowd of thousands of bloggers who seem to share the same content as you. It's simple really. By being YOU and sharing YOUR story. No one else can copy that. You have something unique to share with the world.

We Crave the Truth

This is a big one. Authenticity is something that society is lacking, but truly craving. We are constantly being lied to and being taken advantage of. By being authentic, you're satisfying your readers need for truth.

It Establishes Trust

By being honest, you're also building trust with your readers. Blogging friendships are some of the best, but they rely on the exchange of trustworthiness to know the person they believe they're friends with online is the same type of person in real life.

You Become Relatable 

Nobody's life is perfect, but sometimes we may want to appear that way online. Becoming vulnerable is what allows us to truly connect with others, because we can say, "Hey, I've been there before."

It Inspires Others

This may be my favorite reason of all! :) Your actions, your honesty, and your transparency will give your readers the courage to embrace true authenticity in their life as well, because they have seen it exemplified, through you!


If we aren't authentic and express who we are, we will never be able to create the life that we truly want. And we can’t create a life that’s truly fulfilling to us if we're not true to ourselves and to others.

Does being authentic in blogging reap benefits for you? How do you live your life authentically?

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What You REALLY Need for College

 

*There are referral links present in this post. All opinions within this post are 100% honest – I only recommend products that I personally use and love!

We've all seen them. The "Ultimate College Checklist" is probably the first thing every high school graduate refers to when it comes to shopping for their new college life. And I speak from experience! I referred to college dorm checklists wayyyy back when I was still in high school (except, I went to a boarding school and lived in a dorm, so I have an excuse).

And with college dorm move-in day just a short month away, retailers are gearing up. Just this past week, my family got Target's College 2015 mailer. As much as I love Target (like, loooove Target!), I can't help but get slightly annoyed at their suggested "College Checklist". 

I mean, listen to this:

  • futon
  • decorative lights
  • futon cover
  • dry-erase board
  • lounge chair
  • corkboard
  • area rug
  • bookcase
  • decorative pillow
  • wall shelves
  • back rest pillow
  • nightstand
  • wall clock
  • dresser
  • wall art
  • accent table
  • picture frames
  • ottoman
  • door mirror
  • desk
  • floor lamp
  • desk chair
  • tv stand
  • desk lamp

And that was just the Furniture section. To those of you headed off to college this fall: you really don't need all of this. I don't even think it'll fit into your small room anyways! Plus, you don't want to have to pack up all that stuff at the end of the year. Trust me. Things accumulate faster than you think.

DO NOT BRING...

Furniture

Unless your room doesn't have a desk or bed (it probably will though) don't bring any recliners, sofas, coffee tables, or ottomans, even the ones that store stuff. A small futon is fine if you're ok with having people in your room all the time. Other than that, they just take up space, and you do not want to be a real estate hog.

Kitchen Appliances

Other than a fridge, microwave, and coffee maker. If you feel like baking cookies or something, most dorms have cooking facilities with pans and things that you can use. Save those other kitchen gadgets for any future off-campus living days.

A Printer

I started my freshman year with a printer in my room, fully stocked with ink and paper. Then, I hardly used it because there are free computer labs everywhere! Honestly, a personal printer isn't really all that practical (Hint: you won't be doing THAT many paper essays). A printer not only takes up space, but it can also lead to unnecessary spending on ink and paper.

A Computer Lock

You're most likely going to be carrying your laptop with you everywhere anyways.

A Wall Clock, or Alarm Clock

Simply use the clock app on your smartphone. I recommend Sleep Cycle, since it helps you wake up in your lightest sleep phase, so you're less groggy! Plus, it tracks the quality of your sleep.

BUT DO BRING...

College students, THIS is what you really need for college.

An Amazon Student subscription

Students get unlimited FREE Two-Day Shipping(with no minimum order size), plus exclusive deals and promotions for 6 months!

A mini steamer

Often overlooked, this little beauty will take wrinkles out of clothes in less than 5 minutes and it’s easier to use than an iron. Just fill with tap water, plug it in, and go!

Extra pillowcases

While I do agree with having at least two sets of sheets, I also recommend that you bring along a few extra pillowcases. Pillowcases trap the oils from your face and hair, so try changing it every week. By having extra, you can switch them out and toss the old one into the dirty clothes hamper.

Throw blanket

Perfect for those late (or early) study sessions in the heart of winter, or for sitting out on the front lawn, a blanket is a must! I'm loving this striped one right now!

An umbrella / raincoat

I love this cute umbrella from Bando! Or you could go classic with a wooden handle. But you can also opt for this compact umbrella–it comes in a bunch of color options.

Costumes (or at least ideas of things to wear to make your own costume)

Colleges love having themed events! You will be invited to parties of every theme you can imagine — '70s, '80s, Western, Hawaiian, and many times there are costume contests where you can win prizes. Be prepared!

Easy extra shelves

There's a good chance your closet is going to be small. Velcro a neat organizer to any metal poll, and you'll have the perfect place to store all your sweaters and tees.

An essentials pouch

What I mean by this is that you have a small pencil / cosmetic size pouch that you fill with things such as: bandages, hair ties, chapstick, pads/tampons, pen/pencil, eye drops, safety pins, etc. Having it in a pouch makes it so easy to switch the bag between your backpack and purse while keeping everything organized and neat.

Scissors!

So, so useful.

Air freshener spray

Must I say more?

Hand sanitizer

Keep yourself healthy when the seasons change and the flu starts going around! Get a pack of mini hand sanitizers and keep one in your backpack, purse, and dorm room.

A reusable water bottle

Many college campuses have water bottle filling stations, making it super easy to refill your favorite water bottle. I have the bkr bottle and I love it! It’s made of glass and comes with a silicone sleeve in the color you choose.

A study playlist

Music makes the long hours of studying go by so much faster. I created a Hit the Books playlist on Spotify that includes music from John Mayer, Of Monsters and Men, and Imagine Dragons. Currently it’s 5 hours and 6 minutes long, and I keep on adding to it! Enjoy! (Feel free to check out my other playlists as well)

I hope this helps those of you headed off to college this fall! :)

P.S. Don't forget to check out these 10+ Must Have Apps for College Students!

 

More Life, Less Rush

More life, less rush. #simplicity Today's post is a quickie but it's something I really wanted to share with you guys. This past Saturday was my birthday (yay!!!!) and I turned 20 :) One of the items on my 101 in 1001 list is to write a letter to myself to open when I turn 30. As I was contemplating what to write to 30-year-old Brittany, I realized a funny thing about birthdays.

Growing up, I was always wanting to be older. I couldn't wait to be 14, then 16, then 18, then 20. Now I find myself longing for the day I'm 22 and out of college. But looking back, I realize how fast my teenage years seemed to go by. Even now, I feel like I'm rushing through life, trying to get things done so I can move on to the next part. Where did enjoying the simple moments of life go? Do they only belong on Tumblr photos?

These thoughts caused me some lack of sleep last night because I long to live a simple and authentic life full of meaning, as do many of you. So what can we do to change this?

One, realize that you aren't required to hustle.

[Tweet "You are not required to hustle 24/7."]

While hustling can be a good thing (get that dream business started!), many times it can cause us to feel overwhelmed and overworked. Don't let hustling cause the quality of your work to decline or cause you to not be present in everyday moments.

Thriving and being successful isn't just tied to how hard we work, it's tied to our own definition of those words. Don't let others tell you what you need to do to be successful. You're doing just fine at your own pace. There's no need to rush through life.

Two, sometimes we get so focused on 'what could be', that we forget what is right in front of us.

We're constantly looking forward to what's next, always dreaming of the future. While I do believe that having big dreams is important and that we should work really hard to make them come true, sometimes we let those dreams cause us to believe that our current life is boring in comparison when it really isn't. The idea of the perfect life overshadows the beautiful life we're living right now.

So this is what I want to encourage you to do today, and every day to come:

Be content with where you are in this moment.

Whether you're still in school, moving across the country, getting married, starting a business, or welcoming a new baby, take 5 minutes each day to simply pause and thank God for the life He's blessed you with.

Life will always be messy. But it's your beautiful mess.

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20 Ideas for a Digital Detox

We deliberately need to disengage from things that crowd our life, clutter our relationships, and isolate us from each other. We need to digitally detox.

The internet brings a strange paradox. At the same speed it connects us around the world, it often seems to isolate us from real-life relationships. We can Google answers, have an app direct us around town, and talk to multiple people at one time.

We are strangely captivated by our smartphones and other devices. It's increasingly hard to simply sit and wait and focus on one thing. To us, waiting has become wasting.

There are many things to unlearn in order to develop a new appreciation for real-life experiences. We deliberately need to disengage from things that crowd our life, clutter our relationships, and isolate us from each other. We need to digitally detox.

My hope is that you'll join me in intentionally cutting back on technology and focus on the simple things in life that are often overlooked.

20 Ideas for a Digital Detox

1. Take advantage of the opportunity to experience something new. If you're not used to going without technology, it can be very difficult to start because you don't know what to do with your time. So try this. Before you attempt a digital detox, make a list of activities you can do/want to try that don't require the internet or your phone. Keep that list handy for when your "bored".

2. Download an app that tracks how much you use your phone and force you off your device once you've reached a limit. Moment is a great iPhone and iPad app, while QualityTime is perfect for Android.

3. If you have a Mac, download SelfControl. It lets you block distracting websites and anything else on the Internet you choose. Just set a period of time to block and click "Start." Until that timer expires, you will be unable to access those sites – even if you restart your computer or delete the application.

4. Step away from your phone – and give clean water to children in need. The UNICEF Tap Project encourages you to stop texting, emailing, calling, and using social media on your phone to help provide clean, safe water for children around the world. The longer you go without touching your phone, the more clean water will be given to children in need.

5. Set aside half a day, or even a whole day, once or twice a month where you deliberately disconnect in order to focus on what is important to you.

6. Can't do a whole day without just yet? Try it for an hour or two each day then. Put your phone in flight mode and turn your internet connection off. You will be amazed at how productive you'll be!

7. In the morning, go online only after you have had devotions and only after you've taken time to decide what you need to do for the day. This way God and you determine your agenda, not incoming urgent emails.

We deliberately need to disengage from things that crowd our life, clutter our relationships, and isolate us from each other. We need to digitally detox.

8. When you're on the train, bus, or passenger seat, keep your phone in your pocket or bag.

9. Delete the app you're most addicted to for a week. After the week is up, re-evaluate if you really need it. Who knows? Maybe you'll have even forgotten you deleted it!

10. Take the weekend off from replying to emails! Chances are you don't actually need to respond until "normal" business hours on Monday morning. So if you run your own business (or even if your blog is your business) give yourself a work break and reply to emails later. It's the weekend after all!

11. Check your emails only during restricted periods during the day, such as once in the morning, once at lunchtime, and once in the afternoon.

12. Charge your phone at night so that it's full in the morning. Once your phone runs out of battery during the day, don't recharge it until 2 hours before bedtime. (This way you have an hour to check any messages or calls before putting it away for the evening.)

13. In the hour before you go to sleep, put away your computer and phone and read a book or talk with your spouse instead!

14. Cut down on the number of times a day you check Facebook and other social media. Most of the time, we check it because we're bored. Go outside, work on a project, read, or call one of those Facebook friends instead.

15. Another way to cut down on the social media checking is to leave your notifications be. Once you post something, leave it at that. No need to double and then triple check your "like" count on your Instagram photo or obsessing over how many times your post on Twitter was retweeted or favorited. Just check it later that day.

16. Or just simply turn off notifications and alerts!

We deliberately need to disengage from things that crowd our life, clutter our relationships, and isolate us from each other. We need to digitally detox.

17. Be present. Make a rule that you won't check your phone at restaurants or when in the presence of others. Learn to put the smartphone down and give people your full attention.

18. Even better. No phones at the dinner table.

19. Stop walking and checking your phone! There are so many things you miss by constantly looking down, not to mention it's the easiest way to drop and shatter your phone. Looking up every once in a while is a great way to experience the world – and keep your phone in one piece.

20. Leave your phone in your pocket during even the most awe-inspiring experiences. We all know that sunsets and sunrises are beautiful, so enjoy it instead of taking a picture. There will be many more of them to come.


I hope you'll be inspired to try some of these ideas! The one I'm most excited to try is the no walking and phone checking. Hopefully I'll be able to enjoy what's around me more this way!

How do you plan to digitally detox? Have you tried it before? Was it easy or hard for you?

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The Three Equations of Kindness

Think of kindness as not just an act, but as a lifestyle. Approach each person mindfully, with your full attention, smiling, seeking to understand them, trying to interact with gentleness, warmth, compassion. It's time for a kindness comeback.

In this media driven, socially connected world we live in, kindness matters more than ever. The problem is, many view kindness simply as an act, which it is, but it's more than that. Kindness is a lifestyle. It softens and warms the heart while making the world a nicer place to live.

Consider the acts of kindness you've witnessed, gave, or received. How did you feel? One time during a snow storm in my college town, Caleb and I had to stop on an icy hill due to traffic and a stoplight. The wheels spun round and round and we didn't move an inch, but it only took a few more tries until we finally got going. Only after we were moving was when we saw it. Down the highway a bit, four young men had gotten out of their truck and were running in the snow towards us. They soon saw that we were fine and turned back, and, sadly, we never got to thank them for the act of kindness they showed us, even though the act wasn't fully carried out. But just seeing their willingness to help made our day.

So what can we do to bring kindness back? Lots of things, really. But in order to do so, we must understand more about what kindness is and isn't, and how we can use it effectively.

The Three Equations of Kindness

[Tweet "Learn more about the Three Equations of Kindness you need to know to help kindness make a comeback."]

Kindness = Altruistic

While kindness is not selfish, it doesn't happen solely for the benefit of those receiving. Let me explain. When choosing to do an act of kindness, what's your motive behind it? To help because it makes you happy to see others happy? To show others that kindness makes for a better workplace in effort to make work less stressful? We show kindness because it makes us feel good.

Kindness motivated by positive thoughts that also benefit us, is healthy. It becomes unhealthy when one does an act of kindness without the heart in it. But more on that in the third equation.

Kindness ≠ Weakness

Sadly, kindness has become confused with weakness. But in recent years, more and more companies are incorporating acts of kindness into their workplace. Consider Ikea Canada, which distributed more than 15,000 free packing boxes to help those moving in the summer. Or Kleenex, which allowed people to send free packs of tissues to their sick family and friends during its “Softness Worth Sharing” campaign.

When you ask for help, kindness comes to the rescue. People are willing to share their secrets and help you get the answers you need, plus more! What could be viewed as weak actually comes out as strong.

This doesn't mean that you should let yourself get walked on and feel pressured into doing something because it's the kind thing to do. Remember the first equation: Kindness is Altruistic. Kindness is positivity. If anyone or anything tells you to do a "kind" act and it'll have a negative effect on someone else, or if you don't feel like your heart isn't fully into it, don't do it. Don't associate kindness with weakness or negativity.

Mindfulness + Kindness

They go hand in hand. Transitioning towards kindness requires mindfulness, whether it's intentional or not. Making the conscience effort to be mindful of every interaction with another person will affect you positively, causing you to feel compelled to spread more kindness, which in turn encourages you to be more mindful. Mindfulness and kindness feed on each other in a beautiful, wonderful cycle.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. ~ Colossians 3:12

I encourage you to begin thinking of kindness as not just an act, but as a lifestyle. Approach each person mindfully, with your full attention, smiling, seeking to understand them, trying to interact with gentleness, warmth, compassion.

In seeking to understand them, listen to their needs, both verbal and non-verbal. Find ways in which you can simplify their life and address their needs. More often than not, we become so self-consumed in our lifestyle that we don't take the time to give others our full attention. By doing this, we are pushing ourselves further away from creating meaningful relationships.

So when someone comes to talk and visit with you, when your kids are begging for attention, when your spouse has something to say, turn to them without distraction, putting everything else away, and give your full attention. Listen. Be 100% present.

Kindness changes the world.

What acts of kindness have you performed? How have acts of kindness by others blessed your life?

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You Are Worth It.

YOU ARE WORTH IT. Think about what doubts or fears are keeping you from doing sometime you've dreamed of and take a deep breath. Now, let go. Let those doubts and fears blow away and allow you to see the best of life. Awaken to a deeper meaning and embrace your uniqueness. The world needs you to hold on to your sparkler. I noticed it through the hazy summer twilight. I noticed it among the sound of children's laughter and playing.

He had dropped his sparkler.

As his father picked it up and held it out to him, the young boy shook his head.

No, it's going to burn me.

You can do it, his father said, just hold it right here. Let's try again.

This time as the sparkler was lit, the boy held onto it. In fact, a look of wonder came across his face as he stared at the fiery sparks. With a smile, he ran off down the hill towards the others, never taking his eyes off the little ball of fire.


There's something about fire that we desire to dwell deep within us. Burning passion. Desire to do more, be more. Embers of hope.

But in the middle of cherishing our spark, something snuffs it out. Fear. Resentment. Doubt. We begin to realize that we aren't living up to our dreams, or at least we allow ourselves to believe that we can't.

But we can. It's time to fan those sparks and feed the flame. Because more often than not, we've fallen into a pit of self-doubt. And I speak from experience.

I'm a detail-oriented, logical, people-pleasing dreamer. (Hmm, is there such a thing as a logical dreamer??) In other words, I figure out and dream up the best possible scenario before taking any action. But then the doubt kicks in and I wonder, am I enough?

Their blog is growing so much faster than mine. Am I enough?

What if my plans for this product launch fail? Am I enough?

I want to make fashion posts, but what if I end up looking frumpy? Am I enough?

Maybe you've even thought it to yourself before, Am I enough? Well guess what? :) You are.

It's time to stop holding ourselves back; it's time for a wake-up call. Because darling, you are worth it. If you have big dreams, don't settle for less, aim higher. One of the greatest regrets in life is being/doing who you think others would want you to be/do, rather than simply being yourself. Fan that spark and let it burn! And if it doesn't turn out the way you expected, so be it. Learn from it and move on. You have so much more to give this world.

Think about what doubts or fears are keeping you from doing sometime you've dreamed of and take a deep breath. Now, let go. Let those doubts and fears blow away and allow you to see the best of life. Awaken to a deeper meaning and embrace your uniqueness. The world needs you to hold on to your sparkler.

So don't give up on yourself or your dreams just yet.

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I Will Flourish...Daily

Flourish

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Happy 3rd of July! :) I hope you all have a great Independence Day weekend! My family doesn't have too much planned, just some potlucks with our church family and maybe fireworks later tomorrow night. I also just realized that I don't have my annual red, white, and blue outfit picked out yet. Good thing I'm working today at the mall ;) Haha just kidding, I need to save my money.

Anyways, since it's the first friday of the month (already?!)  that means it's time for another Flourish linkup! Last month seemed to just fly by. This month, we're talking about ways we plan to flourish in our daily lives and routines. Daily habits isn't sometimes an area that you put much thought into because, well, they're habits already. I can't wait to hear the different ways you plan to flourish in this area!


 10 Things I Am Grateful For:

  1. Opportunities brought to me through blogging
  2. My cats
  3. Smoothies
  4. The library
  5. A job, even if it doesn't pay the best
  6. Weddings!
  7. Children that remind me to enjoy the simplicity of life
  8. The sweet sound of birds chirping in the morning
  9. Summer picnics
  10. My sister

I will flourish in my daily habits / routines this year by

Streamlining my daily tasks. I'm a big fan of flexible routines, meaning I like having a vision for what the day will be like, but I know that plans can change and that's ok. To get the most out my day, I plan on multitasking at things such as breakfast, news, and emails while single-tasking at really important things, like homework, the blog, and Caleb's business. I plan on posting more about my daily routines on the blog later in August.

Doing homework in my free time. Last year I always did my homework in the evening or in a big batch on Sunday. The problem is, those are the times when I don't want to be doing homework. So in an effort to free up more time in the evenings and weekends, I'll use my breaks during the school day to finish any assignments I can rather than wasting that time on Pinterest.

Saying no. I'm a people pleaser, which means that it's really hard for me to say no when people ask me to help with something. Because of that, I start to take on too much, causing me to because overwhelmed at all the tasks I have to accomplish. This year I'll selectively choose what I want to spend my time doing. By saying no more often, I'll be able to focus on the tasks at hand and do a better job.

Setting goals with rewards. I'm also planning on setting up a reward system for my goals to help motivate me. I'll work on 1 or 2 goals at a time and mark each day off on a calendar that is displayed prominently for me to see. Another way to be kept accountable!

Reflection:

Last month we wrote on how we planned to flourish healthfully. And honestly, for the last part of the month, I was slacking on my goals :( Part of the reason why is probably because I spontaneous took a trip out for nearly a week help out at an event. When I came back, I wasn't into my routine, so my workouts and sleeping schedule got a bit thrown off. I didn't quit though! Not at all. I'm just working on getting back into that routine that I was in at the beginning of the month.

One thing that will definitely help me in the long term is goal setting. Caleb and I made a simple spreadsheet with our body measurements and weight and set goals for where we wanted to be in two years (because it takes time!). Then we divided them into quarterly goals as stepping stones to the overall goal. So every three months, we'll come back and measure ourselves and see where we need to work harder on improving. It's very motivating!


Next month’s prompt is how you will flourish in your work / career. Examples would include: steps to take to become more knowledgeable, where you want to be in the next 5 years, how you plan to improve, ways to stay current in your niche, etc. If you’re new to the linkup, you can find all of the details right here! I hope you join us sometime, because I’d love to read what you have to say!

If you’d like me to send you a reminder email the week before the linkup, sign up using the link below! I promise to only send you the reminder email and not spam you with random junk.

Sign up for the Flourish linkup email reminder


The linkup will go live the first Friday of every month at 6 am CST. You’ll be able to submit your take on the week’s prompt, as well as discover how other’s are planning to Flourish in the different aspects of their lives! My hope is that this linkup will encourage you to take steps, however big or small, towards becoming the best version of yourself. Don’t aim for perfection, but refine what works for you. Here’s to Flourishing in 2015!

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Leave Your Mark

How will you leave your mark on the world?

I love encouraging others to live a life they are proud of. One where they flourish with purpose and make intentional choices everyday. Life is a gift and we can't waste this beautiful time we are given. It breaks my heart to hear about people whose lives were taken much too early. A few months ago I wrote of how the life and death of a girl I never met impacted me.

And I'm still thinking about it to this day. In fact, I think of it every day! Because I'm constantly trying to figure out:

How will I leave a mark on the world?

Will I be inspiration to others? Will I change someone's life? Will I make the world a better place? These questions run through my head. Being relatively young (still not 20 yet!), I realize I still have a whole lifetime ahead of me. But this isn't something you put off until the last minute. Leaving a mark requires living a lifestyle that'll help make that happen. To begin, you need to honestly evaluate your life from the heart.

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Are you proud of the way you live?

We've all made bad choices. But we've also all made some good ones too. It's easy to get caught up in what's "popular" or "cool" or do something just because everyone else is. Think about it though. Is the way you're living right now something you're proud to tell anyone you meet?

What do you want to be known for?

Honesty? Trustworthiness? Kindness? Hospitality? Maybe you want to be known for an accomplishment of some sort, or for your catchy encouraging spirit. I know I have many virtues that I want to bestow and actively live out, and many of you probably do too.

How can you help others?

Giving back and helping others brings out a feel good spirit in you. Giving thanks for what we've been given helps us realize how blessed we are. Volunteering time, money, and effort can make a much bigger impact on someone's life than you might ever realize. There are even great ways to give back while simplifying your life at the same time!

What is one thing you what to see change in the world?

I want to see chivalry and random acts of kindness become everyday habits. I want people to have healthy, happy, loving marriages. I want everyone to be happy! While I might not be able to single-handedly change the world (who am I kidding? Of course I can't do it alone!), my actions show what I'm passionate about and what I think are important. If you want something to change, act on it!

What can you share with others?

We all come from different backgrounds with different stories and different perspectives, which means we all have a whole lot to share! Don't keep it all in. Whether it's a story of how something changed your life or bits of wisdom that you've gathered, share it! Someone out there needs to hear what you have to say.

Live without pretending,

Love without depending,

Listen without defending,

Speak without offending.

How will you leave your mark?

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