Maintaining a grateful heart is vital to a healthy lifestyle.

Here are a few tips that help me stay grateful (not just in November) ūüėČ

 

1). Get Outside

Go for a walk during your lunch break. Play with your children at the park (try to put the phone down and be silly with them). Do yoga in your backyard. Take off your shoes and really feel the grass underneath your bare feet.

Whatever motivates you to explore the naturally beautiful world around – DO IT. Being outside away from my “things” really gives me perspective.

 

 

2). Re-Evaluate Your Online and Offline Connections

If you’re honest with yourself, would you say all of your relationships build you up? Does your social media feed inspire/encourage you or suck the life from you?

This is such a tricky tip, because I don’t want you to end a friendship tomorrow claiming that person isn’t “good enough”….. Just be cognizant of the person you become after time spent online or offline with them. You’ll know when it’s time to slowly walk away from damaging relationships.

“Bad company corrupts good character.” – 1 Corinthians 15:33

 

 

 

3). Journal

This is a tangible way to “count your blessings”…

In order to have a grateful heart, you must have a grateful mind. Journal 3 or 4 times a week for about 10-20 minutes each time, and soon it will become a habit. I love to reflect on my blessings, positive thoughts, victories, friendships, etc. It makes me smile and it really helps me see how many wonderful things are happening (even in the smallest detail).

Blessings get remembered once they’ve been written down. Until then, you’re just thinking…

 

 

4). Pray

This can be done anytime, anywhere. Don’t underestimate how holy and sacred God is. When we give Him our anxieties and negative thoughts, He cares and He heals.

When I spend time in God’s presence, I always end up with a grateful and refreshed outlook.

 

 

 

5). Pay it forward

Pay for a stranger’s meal. If you like animals, volunteer to help at a shelter. Doing something for someone else almost always helps me maintain an ongoing sense of gratefulness.

Let me know what you’re thankful for by commenting below!

 

 

Perfectionism¬†sounds glamorous, but it’s really just an illusion. It doesn’t exist.

 

What exists is real life.

 

The day to day. The meals, the memories, the songs that make you sing in the shower, the people you share it with.

Real life should not be consumed with expectations of what should be or will be one day.

After the baby is here, once the promotion comes, when I finally get married,” fill in the blank with whatever milestone fits. Whatever it is that’s stopping you from being totally present in the moments that are fleeting.

Perfectionism is pouring every ounce of yourself trying to achieve more. Saying yes to everything. Being the best.

Quite honestly, perfectionism is unhealthy. And superficial. And boring. And exhausting.

 

What is beautiful is the uncertainty while trusting God through it all, the imperfect, the unexpected, the authentic self. 

 

Let me clarify, it’s healthy, and necessary, to evaluate yourself and strive to be a better version of yourself. Wanting to work out, eat healthier, make smarter decisions for your family, etc. It’s god-honoring to desire greatness! But it’s also honoring to God when you’re able to admit weakness, ask for forgiveness from the most vulnerable and secretive place in your heart, and truly strive to be better.

What’s not honoring to God is forsaking your life, your unique personality, your god-given spouse, your innocent children to be the best at everything.

 

Perfectionism isn’t achievable. It’s ugly and empty. And for the birds…

 

An idealistic, unattainable, performance-based culture praises perfectionism….I get it.

But we’re supposed to be different. We’re not supposed to be spread thin, narrow-minded, self-involved, approval-addicted people.

 

We’re supposed to be filled with peace and joy and love and compassion.

 

Perfectionism promises happiness and delivers chaos and problems and deception.

It will consume and destroy you, it will make you deaf to the voice of the Holy Spirit, it will make you slightly closed off to friends and family for fear of anyone knowing you have any weakness at all.

I challenge you to focus on the traits that Jesus possessed, and getting better at emulating those from a pure heart.

Do the things that make you happy, don’t overanalyze pointless things, hold onto the version of you that you like best, and give yourself a healthy dose of grace.

 

As always, thanks for stopping by! Leave a comment below if you found this helpful or if you need prayer or encouragement!

 

Comparing…

What do you think of when you see that word?

Do you cringe and immediately feel inferior? Do you imagine someone who “isn’t as good as you” and smile because you feel superior?¬†Maybe you think of scrolling social media and feeling the weight of not measuring up?

Whatever you’re imagining….the word “comparing” probably has a negative connotation.

So why do we feel the need to compare? Haven’t we all heard the phrase “There’s always someone better, smarter, healthier, etc.”

Yes. And there’s merit to that quote. It’s important to remember that being the best at anything is actually impossible. That to be our best is what matters.

But, how do we program our minds to go from comparing to loving and connecting with others? From judging and criticizing to empathizing and understanding others? From envying to celebrating the victories of others?

 

1). You have to realize when you compare.

Is it when you’re not sure about who you are as a person and how you measure up? Do you compare when you need validation? To make yourself feel better? To motivate you to be better? To feel sorry for yourself?

 

2). Practice self-control.

The next time you begin to compare anything and everything from ability, health, family, wealth, intelligence, character, appeal, etc. take a step back and remember that you aren’t them. You are you.

Dr. Seuss said it best, “Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.”

 

3). Compare yourself to yourself.

Are you where you want to be in school or work? Not what society expects from you. Have you reached your next life goal? Not the goal your sister thinks you should’ve hit three years ago. Are you a better version of you than this time last year?

If so, celebrate and rest in that. If not, ask yourself what went wrong or what changed and re-route. This is healthy comparison.

 

4). Know your worth.

There are thousands of factors that go into making an individual into who they are. No two people have the same personality, family background, brain dominance, natural attributes and skills, geographic location, socio-economic status, or cultural influence. Because of this – comparing yourself to others sets you up for failure. You are essentially comparing an apple to an orange.

God can use you to accomplish His plans. He can take your weaknesses and turn them into something beautiful. He can magnify your strengths and use them abundantly.”God has given you a spiritual gift from his variety of gifts to use for His glory.” – 1 Peter 4: 10

You have to know and believe that as a daughter of God, you are enough.

 

Encouraging someone is to infuse courage in them by saying and doing things that build them up.

Here are five tangible things you can do this week:

  1. openly speaking positively and loving to your spouse in front of your kids to model proper behavior
  2. telling a friend, co-worker, or acquaintance how awesome you think they are
  3. leaving a note of gratitude for someone with specific examples of what they do that makes you thankful for them
  4. praying with someone when they share a problem with you
  5. writing notes with Bible verses included and giving them to people who need them

While these are tangible and effective, please understand that true change can only be noticed in someone else if we are encouraging them with consistency. We cannot simply check off one of the above tasks and call it quits. It might help them in the moment, but long term results is what we should be aiming for.

Ongoing readiness to offer help is encouraging.

People shouldn’t have to face challenges alone – and if you’re in the position to help – do it.¬†Offer someone the rest they need. Offer the gift of grace to someone even if you feel like they “don’t deserve it”. Be a place of safekeeping for their emotions.

Have a positive attitude. Don’t encourage someone as though it’s a burden….do it because you genuinely want to.

They may feel humbled or uncomfortable at first, but they will soon feel grateful, less overwhelmed, and…..encouraged!

Be tender, patient, and consistently supportive. Speak to that person with love and empathy. Then – once they feel heard – begin to coach them as if they’ve already succeeded. They will feel celebrated, empowered, and ready for next steps.

Keep this Bible verse (Col. 4:6) in mind, “Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.”¬†

If you’re encouraging your spouse or children, understand what kind of encouragement they need. Is it a big bear hug with tons of praise and adoration? Or is it silence, a touch, and an empathetic¬†smile?

If you’re encouraging a stranger or an acquaintance you don’t know too well, read them and respond appropriately for the situation.

Here’s a quick example from my personal life:

After boarding the flight anxiously awaiting to go on my honeymoon, a fifty-year-old woman boarded (clearly flustered) as she tried to shove her carry-on in the overhead space. After the third time it fell, she kicked her suitcase and threw her hat at me in frustration.

She plopped down beside me¬†yelling over and over again, “My trip to Aruba is completely ruined! This is ridiculous, I’ve had to switch different flights due to delays and now my husband and I can’t sit together!”

This was the moment I decided I was in a position to help, so I took a chance and lightly touched her shoulder as if to say, “I don’t know you but I know you need a dose of grace and encouragement¬†right now and I can offer that.”

Her reaction wasn’t awkward like I expected. She wasn’t confused that a stranger was touching her……..she was encouraged.

She began to weep and tell me the root of her problems. It wasn’t about the suitcase or the flight changes. She’d just found out that¬†her husband was having an affair, and wanted this trip to help mend their marriage. After listening to her and allowing her to be upset, I spoke softly and actually got to pray over her. She put in her headphones and fell asleep shortly after the prayer.

As the plane landed, she gave me a quick hug and whispered “thank you” and I never saw her again.

I tell you this story because after I had this experience, I had an epiphany…..

If a total stranger could benefit from my encouraging actions/words, how much more does my sphere of influence need it?!

Now I look for opportunity. I¬†truly notice others. It’s a privilege and an honor to connect and help God’s people.

Although I fail daily, I try to follow this verse (Eph. 4:29) as it gives me great perspective when approaching others,¬†“Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”

 

Let me know who you want to encourage this week in the comments section below!

I have emotional needs that must be met, and so does my hubby.

These are called love languages.

Let’s picture these emotional needs as a giant “love tank”. My love tank¬†can either be emptied or filled by my spouse, parents, friends, etc. Basically, I can feel loved or not…

I may know intellectually that my spouse loves me with an unwavering, committed, unconditional kind-of love….but if my spouse neglects to learn my love languages and work on them frequently….I won’t necessarily feel loved.

And after enough time neglecting each other’s love languages, a lot of marriages begin to grow distant or harbor resentment.¬†

I’ll be really honest here. Men are simple compared to women. We are complex, beautiful beings. We have a lot more emotional needs that need to be met – and that’s okay – it’s exactly the way God designed us ūüôā

What’s not okay is to sit around thinking your husband should automatically know what to do or how to act toward you so that you feel loved.

Sometimes I would think, “If he was deeply connected to me like I think he is, he should just know what to say and do right?”

Wrong.

I ask him from time to time to fill up my “love tank”! And he asks¬†the same from me!

Spelling out what you need doesn’t take out the romance. It actually makes our marriage thrive because we feel loved by one another on the deepest levels! Ironically, romance comes about even stronger now, because we’re so vulnerable and honest. It’s a beautiful thing.

Personal example of our love languages:

I feel loved when Paul wraps his arms around me in a big bear hug when he gets home from work, when we’re intimate, when we hold hands on a walk, etc. This is because one of my primary love languages is physical touch. I also feel loved when Paul sends me romantic text messages/voicemails, when he hides handwritten notes throughout the house, or when he compliments me on my hilarious new joke. ūüėČ Why? Because he’s using words of affirmation to express that I am – in fact – loved.

Paul feels loved when I rub his back after a long day at the office, and when we’re intimate because his love language is physical touch. He also feels loved when I pack his lunch for work the night before, because I’m thinking of him and acting selflessly. This is because¬†acts of service is his second love language.

 

Remember, the key here is that I gently told my man how to meet my needs. Which means, I had to know myself really well. I had to figure out what makes me feel most loved.

Now it’s your turn!

What are your top love languages (choose 2 or 3) and tell your spouse specifically how to fill up your love tank!

If you light up like a Christmas tree when your husband does the dishes or laundry…chances are you feel loved by acts of service. If you find yourself buying lots of surprises for your spouse (thinking they will looove it) – it might actually be YOU that feels loved by gifts! ūüôā

There’s no shame in your love tank game, girl! Here are the five categories to choose from:

  1. words of affirmation
  2. physical touch
  3. quality time
  4. acts of service
  5. gifts

 

Find more info about love languages from this book!

My top three priorities as a wife and mother should be in this order:

1). God

2). Husband

3). Children

 

Sometimes it’s difficult¬†to prioritize my spouse before my child, because she is four and has WAY more needs.

The thing that helps me prioritize Paul every day is perspective.

I realize that I’m cultivating my marriage for a lifetime and if I let Audri constantly take precedence, pretty soon she will be graduated, out of the house in pursuit of her own life, and I’ll be living with…..a stranger that I’ve been (subtly) putting on the back burner for YEARS.

Instead of making up for lost/neglected time, I’ve decided to take these precious days God gives me to invest into Paul as my top human priority, and it feels great!

Not only is my marriage successful, but Audri sees what it looks like to love well. She has a front row seat into how marriage is supposed to be and she will look forward to creating a life with her spouse in the future.

Because I’m prioritizing my husband and doing marriage they way God intended – and because my child actually benefits from it –¬†my “mom guilt” is alleviated!

Here are practical tips that I’ve gotten in the habit of doing that really work for our family:

1). Taking responsibility for my marriage. I design the kind of relationship I want through prayer and action. I’m fully aware that we can grow closer or further away as husband and wife and it’s a daily choice. My marriage is up to me!

2). Asking him what his schedule looks like every morning. This allows me to plan in advance. If I know he has a break from 12-2, I can run errands near his office and meet for a spontaneous lunch date. If I know he will be at work for 11 hours without a break, I pack two meals for him to take so that he can eat in between clients.¬†Planning out our day each morning has been an adjustment to say the least! Paul and I still struggle with it, because we are spontaneous people by nature, but we are getting better. ūüôā We used to plan our dates every Saturday night, but we’ve slacked and settled to using a coupon at the nearest restaurant (nothing wrong with that, but it’s nice to plan because we can enjoy new activities)! The point is that we need to invest and stay connected and we can’t do that without a plan!

3). Getting help from babysitters. Grandparents are a great option, but not everyone has that luxury. I suggest finding two babysitters you love and stick to them! It can take time at first, but looking into babysitter groups at your home church is key. The sitters always have background checks and come with lots of experience with kids of all ages (plus they are usually trying to pay for college, or a mission trip, so they are pretty mature, motivated young adults that can be trusted).

4). Spending quality time together regularly. We enjoy one-on-one engaged conversation or activity with no distractions. No children. No responsibilities. Taking trips together just the two of us is one of our favorite things to do. It’s so important that we get away and relax together responsibility free so that we can be recharged!¬†This doesn’t have to be costly. If you’re on a budget, take a weekend road trip, go camping, spend one day/night at a little Bed and Breakfast, take a walk, go for a picnic, hit the gym together, just get creative.¬†(A movie is not considered quality time because its’ distracting you from the other).

5). Learning and practicing his¬†love language. Get to know your husband. Ask him what makes him feel most loved. Does he like when you leave him love notes or shoot him a quick text with affirming words? Then do that every day. Does he like a heavy make out session or a massage? Do it as often as you can. He’ll never get tired of feeling loved. And don’t be afraid to tell him what you like. If gifts is your thing, ask him to surprise you with a 5 dollar gift once a week. Loving each other takes practice and it brings you SO much closer if you’re willing to put in the work!

 

Paul and I pray and worship together almost every day (which is the most important thing we can do for our relationship) but today, I tried to share non-spiritual tips that could help you prioritize your hubby! Comment below if any of these helped!

 

Anxiety is another word for worry or stress!

It’s basically a fear of something that isn’t even dangerous. Which means it’s irrational. It’s only a REAL fear when it’s something legitimately dangerous (like falling from a high-rise) because that can hurt¬†you.

Anxiety is just an annoying little feeling that we¬†perceive as a serious threat. We can experience anxiety regarding just about anything! Here are a few common ones: relationships, failure, loss, rejection,¬†other peoples’ emotions, identity, and other peoples’ perceptions.

If you often describe yourself as unsettled and overwhelmed Рor if you have trouble sleeping or relaxing Рyou might be struggling with anxiety!

Here are 7 ways to BEAT anxiety:

1). cardio exercise – check out my post for a fun workout that leaves me anxiety-free!

2). deep breathing exercises – inhale and hold for 4 seconds, exhale slowly. do this for a number of minutes and you will physically feel your heart rate began to decrease.

3). relaxation or meditation – I enjoy a bath with these scented bubbles!

4). find a healthy outlet – I like sports and dance. My husband likes strategy games. Do what you WANT to do for 30 minutes and you’ll notice a huge difference in your day!

5). learn basic cognitive skills. This is essentially learning to control your thinking instead of letting your thinking control YOU. Reading a book can help in tangible ways. I suggest this one!

6). seek professional help – only after you’ve continuously tried these other coping methods and still have full blown panic attacks. There’s nothing wrong¬†with asking for help!

7). The ultimate solution to anxiety is trusting God that whatever you’re nervous about…….will be taken care of. I have a coffee mug that says “Trust God and Let It Go” and I smile every time I sip from it. Dwell on this beautiful reminder today and every day,¬†“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He’s done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”¬†

 

Why switch to natural products?

I can’t speak for anyone else, but the catalyst to my personal lifestyle switch is mentioned in the beginning of an older post I wrote here.

The quick answer is this:

Life is precious. Health matters. Toxins are real and avoidable. 

Many people in my family have passed away due to cancer, and I miss them dearly.

If carcinogens were to blame, then I don’t want any part of them.

I’m inspired to make daily changes – seemingly small things – that add up over time in a big way. I want to be alive to experience the joy of being a grand-parent, traveling the world with my husband as an empty nester, and accomplishing everything that God has in store for me.

I’m SO excited to spend eternity in Heaven, but I have a responsibility to my health while I’m here on Earth. 1 Corinthians 6:19 says, “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself.”

I really love my life, my family, my friends, and you guys way too much to overlook the reality of the situation.

Toxins are easily accessible, misunderstood, and overlooked.

When making the switch to natural products, the beautiful thing is that not a lot of sacrifices have to be made.

I can still thoroughly enjoy food, makeup, skincare regimes, a hot bath, and bedtime rituals. The difference is my products are toxic-free now. No more carcinogens, parabens and nasty chemicals being absorbed into my bloodstream.

I never have to consume conventional products again, because natural products are just as easy to find!

You just have to know your stuff……or in your case …….you can just read my blog and I’ll know my stuff for the both of us ūüėČ

My health, the health of my loving husband, and my beautiful daughter is my top priority (after salvation) and I take that very seriously.

I’m dedicating this site to helping myself, and others become healthier versions of themselves (in every sense of the word): spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and you guessed it…….physically.

If you’re thinking of making the switch to natural products – feel free to browse around this site for toxic-free recommendations that perform well without risking your health!

OR shoot me an email (veiledfree@yahoo.com) and ask which ingredients and labels to look for before making a purchase!

Writing a letter seems pretty outdated these days, but I’m a big fan of the lost art.

 

I love words.

 

Formulating them, speaking them, listening to them, hearing them, reading them, you get it…. so it only makes sense that I write for a living. And that I’m currently writing…….. about writing.

 

But you don’t have to be a wordsmith to write a letter.

 

It’s actually beneficial for anyone to write a letter. Especially to someone you’ve hurt in the past.

 

 

Writing a letter to someone you’ve hurt can help in the following ways:

1) Gives the betrayed person an opportunity to forgive YOU, and allows THEM to heal from the pain you caused.

2) Allows you to take responsibility for your behavior, and releases any guilt you may be carrying with you.

3) Gains the potential for reconciliation in the relationship (if necessary).

 

Here are some tips for writing a letter:

1) Be 100% authentic and vulnerable

2) Don’t worry about their reaction

3) Use cute stationery ūüėČ – my favorites are below – just click on the images for product info

 

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My morning routine is surprisingly pretty structured for such a spontaneous person!

6:15

I encounter the worst sound in the world from my phone alarm and hit snooze in a panic. (I’ve never been a morning person haha).

6:30

I crawl out of bed and stumble into the kitchen where I boil water in my favorite kettle. This was a really special gift that Paul and I put on our wedding registry so it’s a nice memory to experience¬†every morning. ūüôā I soak my teami tea in a current favorite mug, and of course, choose my record of the day! Today’s record is actually vintage from my father-in-law’s collection he let me borrow. I use this record player and I have zero complaints. The quality is amazing!

I feel most productive during this morning hour, because my family is asleep and the house is quiet.

morning routine

It allows me to get things accomplished and out of the way before Noon, so I don’t feel anxious when I’m playing with my little girl at the park or meeting a friend during her work lunch. I’m present in the moment – which is really important to me.

My morning routine probably isn’t the same as some of you because I work from home. But I’ve had quite a few of you DM or email and ask how I get everything done while running a business.

A really short answer to that is….. I wake up earlier. If you need a more in depth answer, feel free to read this post where I included several women into this very conversation.

I know guys…. “wake up earlier” ….is not a fun answer but it’s the only thing that works for my current life stage.

One thing that motivates me to get up earlier is to invest in “me time.”

I enjoy hot tea in the morning so much it’s ridiculous. I truly feel that finding something healthy as soon as I get up in the morning, gets me a little more excited to begin the day.

If your thing is a smoothie, coffee, or green juice, awesome!

I’m currently enjoying teami skinny tea each morning and teami colon tea every other night to clean out the toxins in my body.

It’s working so well, I honestly looked in the mirror yesterday and said “WOW” out loud when I looked at my stomach (then I felt a little odd because I was the only one around…). If you’re a fellow tea lover, you have to try this detox. The benefits are crazy. It boosts my metabolism, suppresses my cravings, gets rid of menstrual bloating, and detoxifies my major organs. I’m peaceful knowing the tea is safe and all-natural.

I just take a tablespoon of the loose leaf and pack it inside of my cute infuser. Mine is green but they have a ton of colors to choose from. Then I soak the infuser inside of my mug for five minutes, remove the infuser, and add lemon for taste.

I read the Bible (according to my 365 day plan) while sipping on my tea looking out from my back porch. It puts me in the right frame of mind to begin my day instead of an anxiety-ridden stress ball of a mom. I never want Audri to look at me like I’m stressed because of her.

I want her to know I accomplish things, but I always have time to teach and love on her.

After I read the Bible, I go into my “war room” aka my closet and talk to God for a bit. Then I pack a lunch for Paul (which is actually like packing for six children because he eats so much)! ūüėČ

7:15

I go to the gym down the street and work out. They have soooo many classes but I usually stick to my own workout because I know which body part I want to focus on that day. I get home (it’s literally 5 minutes away) and eat a Larabar, take a shower, cleanse and moisturize my face. I feel great by this point, because my exercise is out of the way and the endorphins have kicked in!

8:15 

I get ready for the day, create my to do lists (yes I have several). I use this planner for an overview of my week. I unload the dishwasher, and make my bed. Audri is awake by this point so I cook breakfast for her ( we listen/dance around to the record for a bit). Then the school lessons begin!

photography: Bryan Grayson

Thanks for stopping by to catch my morning routine! I would love to hear how your morning routine is the same or different from mine!

If you want to try the hot tea that I drink, use code VFTEAMI10 at checkout for a discount, and let me know if you see quick results like I did!

 

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