Archives

11 Tips and Tools to Help Ease Your Worries and Fears

worrying peace

Anxiety is something many people live with every day.  Did you know that most of the things we worry about never happen?  Even though we may know this, many of us worry about them anyway. At some point, we have all experienced anxiety in our lives in one way or another.  If you suffer from anxiety frequently, I want you to know that you can overcome it and find peace in your life.  There are many tools and tips available to help you turn those fears into love and peace, and in this article I will share those that have worked best for me.

I suffered with anxiety as a child.  As I look back on all those years of living in fear and self-induced stress, I realize how unhealthy it was.  But I also realize it was a gift.  I needed to go through the process of dealing with it to get to where I am today.  By the grace of God, I was able to find some tools that have helped me to overcome all of my fears and find lasting peace in my life.

There are an unlimited amount of tools to help you deal with anxiety, and your job is to find what works best for you.  With each problem you experience, there are many possible solutions.  What worked for me may or may not be helpful to you.  Here are 11 tools and tips that I have found to be useful for easing the worries and fears in my own life:

  1. Exercise – Virtually any form of exercise can act as a stress reliever.  Get your body moving in any way you enjoy.  Exercise does not have to cost money.  You can simply go for a walk, garden, clean the house, or engage in any exercise that you enjoy.  Make it fun, but most importantly, just get moving!
  2. Get Outside – Everything in nature is medicine!  From the light of the sun to the minerals in the rocks on the ground, and everything in between.  When I am feeling stressed, one of my favorite things to do is to go for a walk out in the fresh air (sometimes with my dog, sometimes with a friend, and sometimes by myself.)  When I walk alone, I focus on enjoying and appreciating the nature all around me, and I give gratitude for nature and all of the things I have been blessed with.  Another of my favorite things to do is take a deep breath in, look up at the sky, and say a silent prayer of gratitude.  It only takes a few seconds, but my stress is often instantly relieved when I do this.
  3. Meditation – Even 5 minutes of meditation can help bring your awareness to the present moment and help you to ease your fears.  Here is a 5 minute guided meditation I have found to be very calming for me.  If this particular video doesn’t work for you, there are many others out there.  Simply search the internet for “5 minute guided meditation.”
  4. Keep a Journal – I personally find writing to be very therapeutic.  In her book, The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron introduces a practice that can be very beneficial in helping you to reduce anxiety while improving your daily productivity and regaining your creativity.  This practice is called “morning pages.”  Morning pages consists of writing 3 pages in your journal upon waking each morning.  Write whatever comes to mind, and do not worry about spelling, grammar, etc.  Simply write without stopping until you have filled up 3 pages.  When I decided to challenge myself to writing morning pages daily for 30-days, I experienced many unexpected benefits.  I found that my days were more productive, I gained clarity on what my priorities really were in life, and I gained some valuable insights about life that led me to write my book, The 31-Day Self-Love Challenge.  Another benefit of morning pages was that it helped me to let go of some of my worries.  If “morning pages” seem too much for you, simply consider starting a journal and just writing your worries in there whenever they come up.  You may be surprised how therapeutic and helpful that can be!
  5. Turn off the News –  If you struggle with anxiety, one tip I strongly recommend is that you turn off the news.  You do not need to know about every fire, murder, or car accident that has happened in your area each day.  I do not watch the news at all, and I am easily able to keep up to date with everything I need to know through the headlines on-line and through my local town page on Facebook.  I simply click on those that I feel I need to know more about.  There is no need for me or my kids to see visuals of fires, murders, or accident scenes to add to our list of everyday stresses.  Instead of filling up your time with the local news, try replacing that time filling your mind with inspiring stories.  Do this and watch your attitude about the world shift from one of worry and fear to one of love and peace.  This advice is reinforced in my favorite bible verse:  “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” ~Philippians 4:8 NIV
  6. Yoga – I personally practice yoga at least once a week, and I have found it to be a very relaxing experience for me in body, mind, and spirit.  It helps me to focus on the present moment – something that is often very difficult to do in this day and age, especially as a mom.  According to Yoga Journal, just one of the benefits of yoga is that it relaxes your system: “Yoga encourages you to relax, slow your breath, and focus on the present, shifting the balance from the sympathetic nervous system (or the fight-or-flight response) to the parasympathetic nervous system. The latter is calming and restorative; it lowers breathing and heart rates, decreases blood pressure, and increases blood flow to the intestines and reproductive organs—comprising what Herbert Benson, M.D., calls the relaxation response.”  Check out the article 38 Health Benefits of Yoga to learn about more of the benefits of yoga.
  7. Reiki – Reiki is a Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing.  I am a certified reiki practitioner, and I have witnessed the calming effects this technique has had on my family members and clients.  If you are interested in finding out more about reiki, you may do so at Reiki.org.
  8. EFT Tapping –  EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques) Tapping is another method that has proven to be highly effective in helping people to overcome their fears and phobias.  Tapping is a combination of ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology.  As you tap your fingers on specific points on your body, you acknowledge your fears out loud.  This helps you to become in tune with your feelings, and then it allows you to fully experience them so you are able to let them go.  I know from experience that tapping really works!  When my daughter developed some physical health issues last year, it caused her a great deal of anxiety.  After many doctor visits and tests and many school days missed, the doctors and specialists could find nothing physically wrong with her, but she insisted that the symptoms still existed.  Her anxiety grew, and fears began taking over her life.  She became afraid of going to school.  She was even afraid to go to sleep at night!  We began tapping on these issues and discovered some underlying fears that were contributing to these bigger fears.  We tapped on these issues every night.  Within a few weeks, all of her fears were gone and all of her health issues were completely resolved and have not returned.  Tapping is wonderful because it is a tool that you can use anytime and anywhere, it doesn’t require the assistance of anyone else, it is absolutely free, and it is very simple to learn!  If you would like to learn how to do it, visit The Tapping Solution to watch free instructional videos and to download some very useful tapping sessions to help reduce stress.
  9. Change Your Thoughts from Fear into Love and Gratitude -Just as light and darkness are opposites and cannot exist simultaneously, love and fear work the same way.  When you shine a light into a room, the darkness is removed.  Similarly, when you focus your thoughts on gratitude and love, worry and fears dissolve.  I recently had the opportunity to practice turning my fear into love and gratitude.  When I chose to do so, my worries vanished and I was overcome with peace.  My youngest daughter recently broke her arm and had to have a procedure done with anesthesia for the first time.  When she was 20 months old, she became very sick due to a reaction to a vaccine.  Since then, I have been fearful of vaccines, medicines, and putting anything unnatural into our bodies unless it was absolutely necessary.  Needless to say, I had a very difficult time dealing with her having anesthesia, and it caused me much anxiety and worry.As I sat in the waiting room while she was having the procedure done to fix her arm, the fears came rushing to me.  I kept thinking, “What if she doesn’t wake up?”  Finally, after worrying myself for several minutes, I made the decision to stop worrying and to turn my fears into love.In that moment, I closed my eyes and sent love to everyone in the operating room with my daughter, and I gave thanks for all of them.  I envisioned the room filled with a white light, and I sent love and positive thoughts to everyone involved.  Then, I gave thanks for the one thing that was causing me the most anxiety – the anesthesia.  I thanked it for helping this to be a positive experience for my daughter, and I tried to focus on all the good things about the anesthesia.  Because of it, she would have no pain during the procedure.  She would also have no memory of it, so it would not be a traumatic experience for her, and it would not cause her to develop new fears that she would have to deal with for the rest of her life.  When she woke up, her arm would be back together in a cast and on its way to healing properly.  Choosing to focus on the benefits of anesthesia and turning my thoughts from fear into love and gratitude helped me to calm down immediately.Within moments, the doctor emerged and he let me know that everything had gone smoothly and my daughter had done great.  I was taken to the recovery room to wait for her to wake up.  When she opened her eyes, I was right there by her side.  The first words that came out of her mouth were, “I’m bored!”  Right then, I could tell that she was her usual self, and it gave me a great sense of relief.  For the rest of the time we were there, everyone was fantastic with her.  The nurses were all so attentive, and I could feel the love that I had sent out being returned to us.When I decided to change my fears into love and gratitude, everything changed.  I saved myself many moments of unnecessary worry when I took the opportunity to look for the good in the anesthesia and give thanks for it.  That is just another reminder that everything in life can be a gift if you look for the good and focus on that! ~from The 31-Day Self-Love Challenge: Day 17.
  10. Let Go of Perfectionism – Learn to accept yourself exactly as you are.  Accept others just  as they are without judgement.  Recognize and appreciate the unique gifts you have to offer as well as those that others have to offer.  Let go of your desire to fit society’s definition of perfect, and also let go of your desire to control others to fit your expectations of perfect.  Nobody is perfect.  If we were, then there would be no opportunity for growth.  One of the reasons we are on this earth is to grow and to learn from our mistakes, and to help and teach others as we grow and learn along the way.  If we can recognize that we were not meant to be perfect and we allow ourselves to make mistakes in everyday life once in a while, we will take a lot of stress and pressure off of ourselves.  Stress is not healthy, and perfectionism is generally not healthy (unless you’re a surgeon or in a profession where perfectionism is necessary…then by all means, please keep your high standards.)  But in everyday life, we all make mistakes.  Many of us try to live up to the expectations of our society, and that is very unhealthy.  There is so much pressure to be the perfect parent, raise a perfect family, live in a perfect house, hold a perfect job, all while having the perfect body.  Guess what?  Perfection does not exist.  I have finally come to realize that, and life is so much easier and enjoyable without all that added pressure.  I believe one of the reasons I suffered with anxiety as a child is because I could never live up to my expectations of perfection.  I excelled in school all the way throughout my college years, but now I look back and ask myself, “why?”  Why did I put so much stress and pressure on myself to be the perfect student?  I do believe there is a reason for everything, and maybe the reason is so I can teach my kids that it’s ok not to be perfect.  It’s ok if you don’t get A’s on everything.  It’s ok if my house is not spotless 100% of the time.  It’s ok to try new things.  It’s ok to make mistakes.  It’s ok to be myself and do things my own way.  We are all growing and learning, and it’s ok if we’re not perfect all the time (or even most of the time.)  Nobody is.  How boring life would be if we were perfect!  There are so many ways to do everything, and each of our jobs is to find what works best for us.  A perfect life is an authentic life…it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.
  11. Surrender -I have discovered that the best way to a life of peace and serenity is through surrender.  We must remember that we are not the master planner of our lives.  Events are going to happen that are out of our control, and some of them may even be traumatic.  Sometimes we will be distracted, and things are not always going to go the way we plan.  When these things happen, we are presented with two choices:  we could feel sorry for ourselves because things aren’t going as we planned, or we could embrace the distractions and unfortunate situations and recognize each one as a gift and an opportunity to grow.  Sometimes these traumatic events may lead us to develop fears, phobias, or limiting beliefs.  The first step to overcoming any of these is to recognize them and decide that we want to overcome them.  Sometimes it feels safer to hang on to our fears, but that only prevents us from achieving our dreams and it does not allow us to grow into the person we were meant to be.  When we decide to let go and let God take over, we surrender control of our lives and decide to put our complete trust in God (or the universe, the process of life, or whatever you personally call it).  We then realize that everything happens in its own perfect time and for a reason.  We come to the understanding that we will receive everything we need at the perfect time, so there is no need for worry.  This realization and trust will provide us with a deep level of peace.  After living with anxiety for many years, I have finally experienced the deep peace that comes with surrender.  Once you find this peace, you are able to tap into it at any time.  I don’t believe there is any greater gift than that! (This excerpt was also from my book, The 31-Day Self-Love Challenge: Day 17.)

These are just a few tools you might want to try to help you relieve your worries and fears.  There are many, many more I could list, including music, aromatherapy, and the list goes on and on!  If none of these tips work for you, keep searching and trying new things.  Don’t give up!

What is your favorite way to relieve stress?  Please leave your favorite tip in the comments.

A New Year’s Resolution You Can Keep

Are you tired of making New Year’s Resolutions you can’t keep?

This year, instead of focusing on all the things you want to change about yourself, what if you made a different kind of resolution? What if the only resolution you made was to love yourself more, exactly as you are?

You are a perfect creation just as you are!  You were born with so many natural gifts to share with the world, but when you focus on all the things you think are “wrong” with you or that society tells you are “wrong” with you, your precious time and energy will be spent on the wrong areas and everyone will be missing out on the real gifts you have to bring to the world. Instead, why not focus on being yourself, discovering those gifts, and sharing them with those around you?

marie forleo

When you learn to love yourself unconditionally and live a more authentic life, all of the things you think are “wrong” with you will naturally take care of themselves. For example, if losing weight was going to be your resolution, that will naturally happen when you take the time to love yourself as you are and commit to discovering the emotional cause of your eating habits. Once you are able to deal with and overcome those emotional issues, you will naturally want to care for your body and fuel it with real foods that nature intended us to eat. Then, the weight will fall off naturally. The same goes for any other area of your life that you think might need improvement.  When you begin to live authentically, everything begins to fall into place and your dreams will begin to come true!

If you do want to live a more authentic life and get to know and love yourself more but you don’t exactly know how to do that, The 31-Day Self-Love Challenge was written to help you do just that.  It requires just 15 minutes of your undivided attention each day for 31-Days. You will learn to embrace your uniqueness, discover your priorities so you can spend your time and energy on those things that really matter in life, and recognize your gifts and talents so you can share them with the world and fulfill the purpose that you were sent here to make.

The_31Day_SelfLove_Cover_for_Kindle

So, whatever challenge or resolution you decide to make for this New Year, I wish you much success!

My Favorite Mantra…

This week has been crazy busy for my family with the start of school, hosting our annual back-to-school ice cream party for the neighborhood kids, and preparing for the upcoming 4-H fair that my kids are involved in this weekend.  With all the fun and excitement going on this week, my house is a disaster and I have fallen behind in my usual weekly obligations (including my weekly blog post).  In lieu of writing a long post this week, I would love to share with you one of my favorite mantras.  I am constantly reminding myself of this, but this week it seems particularly appropriate.  Breathe mantra

Whenever I say this to myself, I always feel instantly better.  I have discovered that having complete trust in God and the universe IS the way to inner peace and the biggest stress reliever there is!

Have a great Labor Day weekend!!  Enjoy!! 🙂

 

 

 

 

10 “Secrets” to Inner Peace

10-secrets-to-peace

As I was meditating on the 10 Commandments recently, I realized these life guidelines are a wonderful gift to us. In a perfect world, everyone would follow these commandments, suffering would be completely eliminated, and everyone would be full of love and free of worry. We would all be at peace with ourselves and wouldn’t be afraid to “be ourselves.” We would all be loved and accepted just as we are, with no pressure to conform to what society says is “right” and “wrong”, and our uniqueness would be appreciated. We would all know ourselves and be able to identify our gifts, we would know God, and we would know that underneath it all, we are pure LOVE. Everyone would lovingly share their natural God-given gifts and talents with each other to make the world a better place.

But we do not live in a perfect world. We have free will. While free will is generally a wonderful gift (without it, we would not be able to grow), unfortunately it allows for all of us to occasionally take some actions out of fear rather than love. Each action taken out of fear eventually causes suffering, either in our own life or someone else’s. That is exactly what the 10 Commandments are trying to prevent.

The 10 Commandments are not secrets at all.  They are widely known and accepted by various religions, but they are not always followed.  When reading the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20:1-17 of the bible (NIV), initially they seem very harsh and instill fear in me. After spending some time meditating on them, I see the reasons behind them and see that they are all based on LOVE. They are guidelines to help us avoid suffering.  Here is my attempt at a “loving” 2014 interpretation of the 10 Commandments:

 1. Make God (a.k.a. “LOVE”) the #1 priority in your life.

 Having complete faith and trust in God will allow you to let go of all your worries, give them up to God, and live in peace.  As one of my favorite sayings goes, “Let Go.  Let God.”

God is the one constant in your life. Everything and everyone else will come and go, but your creator will never leave you. During the difficult times in life, trust that everything is happening exactly as it should. I believe that everything happens for a reason and always for the greatest good, even though we may not understand the reasoning right away. I believe that there are no accidents in life, and every experience we encounter each day is a gift. My trust in God is what gets me through the difficult times, and those times have proven to be some of the greatest blessings in my life.  Remember that you are not the master planner of your life, and everything will always work out for the best in the end. When you are able to give all your worries up to God and let go of trying to be the master planner of your life, fear will be replaced with LOVE, and you will know peace.

So, how do you make God the #1 priority in your life?

It all starts with loving yourself.   When you make the time for self-care and you really take the time to get to know, love, and accept yourself exactly as you are, you will find God within you.   When you love yourself, you will respect your life and your body. You will want to feed your body healthy foods and feed your mind only healthy thoughts. You will want to spend more time on your personal growth, trying to better yourself each day so you can be the best person you can be.

Society tells us self-care is selfish. Society tells us to take care of everyone else first and put ourselves last. I believe this commandment is telling us the opposite. It is telling us to put God first. Since God is within you, the more time you focus on loving yourself, the more you will come to know Him. When you take the time to care for yourself, you will be better able to care for others. If you don’t love yourself, it is impossible to love others. God speaks to us in the silence, so if you don’t take time to be still, it is very difficult to hear God. Since God IS love, the more time you spend getting to know yourself and God, the more you will be filled with love. Eventually, you will be so full of love that the love will start to pour out onto others. Your actions will be done out of pure love rather than guilt or obligation, and you will be fulfilling your purpose on this earth.

If anyone or anything besides God is #1 in your life, it will take away your inner peace and cause suffering.  This includes money, addictions, power, possessions, etc.  Let go of your need for these things, and trust that God will provide whatever is needed in your life.

Do you feel at peace right now? If not, ask yourself what or who is the top priority in your life.

The 1st Commandment from Exodus 20:3 NIV states:

“You shall have no other gods before me.”

2. Focus your time and energy on relationships rather than possessions.

We all came into this life with no possessions and will leave this life with no possessions. Do not worship or get too attached to your possessions. All possessions come and go, and they don’t really belong to us anyway. Everything we have belongs to God and is a gift from God. Spending too much time and energy consumed with acquiring and maintaining possessions leads to an empty life. Remember, “The best things in life aren’t things.” At the end of your life, the shiny car you drove or the house you owned will not matter. The only things that will matter are the relationships you had: with God, with yourself, and with others. Take the time to nurture your relationships. LOVE comes first.

The 2nd Commandment from Exodus 20:4-6 NIV states:

“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.  You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

3. THINK before you speak. Is it:   True?  Helpful?  Inspiring?  Necessary?  Kind?   If not, keep it to yourself.  Everything you say should be done out of love.

 Speak only kind words about yourself, about God, and about others. Since God is within you and God created you, speaking negatively about yourself is the same as speaking negatively about God.

Speaking poorly about yourself, God, or others will destroy your inner peace, so do your best to keep your thoughts and words positive. Philippians 4:8 states: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.”

There are many proverbs and verses in the bible that promote the idea of thinking before you speak.

Proverbs 29:20 states: “Do you see a man who is hasty in his words? There is more hope for a fool than for him. “

Proverbs 10:19 states: “The more talk, the less truth; the wise measure their words.”

James 1:19 states: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry…”

Ecclesiastes 5:2 states: “Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.”

The 3rd Commandment from Exodus 20:7 NIV states:

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”

4. Each week, take a full day off to recharge.

This is my favorite tip, and the one practice that has made the greatest impact in my life! Since following this advice, I have come to know myself better, I feel like I know God much better, I feel like I know what my true priorities are in life, and I feel relaxed, happier, less-stressed, and much more at peace.

Each week, set a day aside to rest. Do your best to plan all your work around that day each week. Spend the day enjoying your family and friends, and take the time to stop and truly appreciate all the blessings surrounding you. Allow spontaneity, especially if you follow a strict schedule the other 6 days of the week. Allow yourself to get bored once in a while and really get to know your true self. Be fully present wherever you are, and focus completely on what you are doing. Notice the little things, and try to spend the day in a state of gratitude. You may be surprised what a positive impact this will make on your life, and may find that allowing yourself the time to relax and recharge actually makes you more productive.

The 4th commandment is a blessing, and if more people followed this commandment and took the time to relax and recharge each week, I think people would have much less stress in their lives, much more peace, and families would be much stronger. It is personally my favorite day of the week!

The 4th Commandment from Exodus 20:8-11 NIV states:

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

5. Respect your elders, and take advice from those you admire.

When you are a child, those who care for you generally have your best interest at heart. If you listen to them, you will be safe, protected, and live a long life. If you ignore their advice, you will be putting yourself and your life in danger. Take advantage of the wisdom your elders have gained, and listen to them so you don’t have to learn things for yourself the hard way.

The 5th Commandment from Exodus 20:12 NIV states:

“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.”

6. Respect each other. Respect the environment and all the creatures of the earth. Do not intentionally harm anyone.

We are all one big family inhabiting this earth together. We need to love, respect, and accept each other. Every person and every thing we encounter each day is a gift. We need to recognize, appreciate, and respect all the gifts we have been given and treat them all with love.

The 6th Commandment from Exodus 20:13 NIV states:

“You shall not murder.”

 7. Keep your promises. Help others to keep their promises.

 Broken promises cause suffering. If you aren’t positive you can keep a promise, don’t make it. Select your words carefully. Instead of saying, “I will…” get into the habit of saying “I will try…” or “I might…” or “I’m planning to…” Sometimes unforeseen circumstances prevent you from doing what you say and promises are broken, causing disappointment. I rarely make promises, but when I do, I take them seriously and make sure I can fulfill the promise I made.

Also, do not interfere with a promise someone else has made, especially if it is a vow in marriage. Marriage is not something to be taken lightly. When two people love each other and take the vows of marriage, it is a promise they make to each other and to God. Everyone needs to respect this promise.

The 7th Commandment from Exodus 20:14 NIV states:

“You shall not commit adultery.”

 8. Respect the belongings of others.

Recognize that people work hard to earn everything they have. If you want something, you must also work hard to earn it. Do not take what doesn’t belong to you. Also, do not be afraid to ask if you need something. Matthew 7:7 NIV states: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” If you want something, work for it. If you need something, simply ask, but do not steal.

The 8th Commandment from Exodus 20:15 NIV states:

“You shall not steal.”

 9. Be honest with yourself and others, and treat everyone with love and respect.

 Be completely honest with yourself and others. Don’t say yes when you mean no. Doing things just to impress or please others doesn’t help anyone, and it will only cause you resentment in the long run. Make sure EVERYTHING you do is done out of love. Doing anything out of guilt or obligation is not an act of love.

Speak only kind words about others. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say it at all. Do not gossip, spread rumors, or consume your precious time with the way others are living their lives. Rather, put your time and energy into improving your own life and helping others to do the same.

The 9th Commandment from Exodus 20:16 NIV states:

“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.”

 10. Be grateful for what you have.

I believe the attitude of gratitude will always bring happiness and peace. Focus on your blessings and give thanks rather than focusing on your wants. When you focus on your wants, you are focusing on the things you are lacking in your life, and that just puts you into a state of fear. On the other hand, being grateful puts the focus on love and abundance. Instead of always going after the latest model car, phone, etc., learn to be content with what you have. According to Buddha, craving and desire are two of the biggest causes of suffering.

The 10th Commandment from Exodus 20:17 NIV states:

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

 Conclusion

If everyone followed these 10 commandments all the time, I believe suffering would be nearly, if not completely eliminated, and we would all be at peace. But the reality is, we are all human. We all make mistakes and break some of these commandments from time to time. When that happens, we can guarantee that someone will pay the price for our mistakes. We may cause our own suffering, or we may cause the suffering of someone else. But the good news is, it is not the end of the world and we can be forgiven if we just ask for it. We can wake up the next morning, thank God for a brand new day, and start new.

Overall, I think Jesus summed up the 10 commandments perfectly in Mark 12:30-31 NIV

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Also, you can never go wrong if you follow the golden rule:  “Treat others the way you would like to be treated.”

May your days be filled with love, peace and blessings!

How Daily Time for Creativity Can Improve Your Health

“Creativity is God’s gift to us.  Using our creativity is our gift back to God.”

~Julia Cameron, The Artists Way

“Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”  ~Pablo Picasso

It’s school vacation week here, and in an effort to minimize screen time for my kids this week, I have been scouring Pinterest for some good craft ideas.  My kids love to create things, and I encourage them to do something creative every day (especially during school vacation.)  Here are just a few ideas we have come across so far:

On Friday, my 11-year old decided to attempt to make a wooden rocking chair out of clothespins.  She was beyond thrilled with the end result!  She modified the original instructions and used popsicle sticks as well so she could fit her Beanie Boos in the chair.  She was so proud of herself that she decided to make another one for her friend and she taught my 9-year old to make one, too!

April 19, 2014 011April 19, 2014 005

Check out the complete instructions to make the original version of this chair at Crafty Corner.

My 11-year old also went to a cake decorating class on Friday and made this bunny cake for Easter.  Again, she was super proud of herself.  It makes me happy to see my kids happy with the results of their hard work. 🙂

April 19, 2014 022

On Saturday, my daughters wanted to make this cute rabbit fruit platter for Easter.  I let the girls cut the fruit and arrange the design by themselves, and again, they were very proud of the final result.

April 19, 2014 087

Here are the original instructions for this rabbit fruit platter from Worthpinning.com.

On Monday, my 6-year-old decided to make this “Our Family ROCKS!” rock garden.  She wrote “Our Family Rocks” on the big rock in the middle, and wrote the names of each family member and pet on a smaller rock around the big rock.  She was proud of her creation as well, and now everyone who comes over our house will be greeted by this rock garden.

April 21, 2014 012

Here is the original picture that inspired us from Pinterest:

family rock garden

I don’t know what else is in store for the rest of the week, but I do know taking the time to be creative each day is good for the kids and it has many benefits, so I will keep encouraging it!

Creativity is good for our health, too!  It can help us to become healthy in mind, body, and spirit.  It is great for our emotional health because it is a great stress-reliever.  As a result of less stress, it may improve our physical health.  Creativity connects us with our source, so it is a wonderful way to improve our spiritual health as well.  Here are a few benefits of creativity that I have personally found:

Benefits of Creativity

1.  It’s fun!  It’s relaxing and is a great way to relieve stress and get our mind off all of our problems.  Don’t you always feel better when you just sit with a child and color?  I find it therapeutic, and it makes me happy 🙂

2.  Freedom!  There are so many ways to express our creativity.  Whether it is writing, cooking, baking, photography, drawing, painting, music, sewing, wood crafts, or whatever it is you like to do, there are so many ways to put our personality into our creations.  In art, there isn’t only one right way to do something.  Just have fun with it and find what works best for you and add your own style.

3.  Creativity helps you to discover your true self and allows you to express yourself in your own unique way.  When I started writing in my journal years ago, I would simply write about the daily events that were happening in my life at the time.  As I wrote more and more often, I would get insights on certain things and I started to discover who I really am.  I began to develop my own beliefs and form my own opinions on many topics rather than just believing what I had always been told.  I also began to come up with many new ideas of my own and I started to become more passionate about many topics.  In my writing, I found my true self.  And in that self, I found God.

4.  It keeps you aligned with your source.  When you use your creativity, you are allowing God to work through you. Sometimes when I write, the words just flow onto the paper without me even thinking about them.  It doesn’t happen every time I write, but when it does happen, I feel it is God working through me.  During those times, they are God’s words, not mine.  I felt that happen when I wrote my very first post on this blog “Secrets to Happiness on the Lifelong Journey to Complete Wellness.”  I literally woke up that morning, and the words just flowed onto my paper in about 45 minutes.  Then I got the idea to start this blog.  To this day, that post is still the most popular post on this blog.  It’s funny how God works sometimes.

5.  Serenity.  Whenever I feel stressed out, I stop what I’m doing, sit down with my journal, and write.  Just me, God, and my journal.  This immediately brings me an immense amount of peace and all my problems seem to melt away.  I am sure this would work with other forms of creativity as well, whether it be music, dance, drawing, etc.  Whatever your preferred method of creativity is, I urge you to try it next time you are stressed out.

6.  A finished project gives you a feeling of accomplishment and pride in your work.  When my daughters finish an art project that they are happy with, I love seeing them light up and filled with feelings of joy and pride for all the time and effort they put into the project.

7.  It can connect you to others with common interests.  My 11-year-old started taking a woodworking class this past year.  She is in a scroll-sawing club, and has made new friends who are always ready and willing to help her out and share their ideas with her.  Joining that club has been one of the best things she has ever done.  It gives her something to look forward to, and is consistently the highlight of her week.

Making daily time for creativity a priority is a great self-care tip!  I believe we are all artists.  I love Julia Cameron’s quote above where she says “using our creativity is our gift back to God.”  When we are gone from this earth, our creations will still live on.  Our creations are our contribution to this planet and a true expression of our uniqueness.

As we grow up, responsibilities seem to take over and we put less importance on creating and having fun (I know I do, anyway.)  I do take the time to write each day, but I also enjoy doing crafts and making photo books for my girls.  When I take the time to do those things I enjoy and actually have some fun, I feel guilty.  I feel like I “should” be doing something “more productive.”  I feel like my house “should” be cleaner.  I feel like my husband is working so hard to support our family, and I’m doing something I enjoy?  Those are just a few things that run through my head when I’m feeling guilty about taking the time out for me to create.  I need to work on getting over those feelings of guilt because I know creativity is good for me AND my family.  Whenever I am creating something, I feel relaxed and more connected to my source and I am happier and more at peace.  After all, when mom is happy, then everyone is happy, right?

I am going to make more of an effort to follow my own advice, set a good example for my kids, and make it a priority to take the time to create something every day.

What are you going to create today?

Everything is Happening as it Should Be

breathe

This quote from Cheryl Richardson always makes me feel better when I am feeling stressed or anxious.  My 11-year-old daughter hasn’t been feeling well for over a month, so much of my focus has been on that lately, and sometimes worry starts to take over.  As I work with her doctor to try to figure out what is going on with her, I remind myself that “everything is happening exactly as it should be,” and I instantly feel better.  This quote brings me immense comfort.  I know it is the truth, and I know that everything will work out just fine in the end.  When I look back on my life, I find that all of the difficult situations turned out to be great blessings, even if they were blessings in the form of lessons.  In the end, I believe every experience is a gift.

I just thought I would share this beautiful quote with all of you because we all experience troubles and worry from time to time.  Whatever troubles you may be experiencing today, just remember that everything is happening exactly as it should be.  I hope this quote comforts you as much as it comforts me.

If you enjoy quotes like this, “Like” Journey to Complete Wellness on Facebook for daily inspirational quotes, health tips, and healthy recipes!

10 Things I Learned in 2013

2013 seasons

As 2013 comes to a close, I have been reflecting on the things I have learned this year and the new habits I have incorporated that have made a positive impact in my life.  Over the past year, I have taken a much deeper interest in living naturally and becoming aware of the foods and products I put into and on my body.  I dedicated a lot of my time learning about those topics, and I also put a lot of good advice into practice in the area of self care.  I have better learned how to honor my true self, and I spend much more time doing things I truly love.  I live a more authentic life because I stopped trying to please others.  I finally feel like I am following my passions and am living each day fulfilling God’s purpose for my life.  Each morning when I wake up, I am so grateful to have another day on this earth and to be able to enjoy all the wonderful blessings God has given me, and I am so excited to see what the day will bring and how I can use my natural gifts and talents to serve others.  Here are 10 things I learned in 2013 that have contributed to improving my overall wellness:

1.  Every person, every thing, and every experience we encounter each day is a gift from God.

There are no accidents or coincidences in life.  Every person we come into contact with and every experience that happens to us each day happens for a reason.  Even the seemingly bad experiences and encounters are a gift.  When something unfortunate happens in my life, I remind myself that it is a gift and it is happening because there is a lesson I need to learn from it.  If suffering didn’t exist in the world, we would not have the chance to grow.  Having the faith that there is a good reason behind everything brings me instant peace.  I try to recognize and appreciate all the gifts that come into my life each day because I have found that the biggest secret to happiness is the attitude of gratitude.  For more of my secrets to happiness, check out my blog post Secrets to Happiness.

2.  Eating REAL food makes a huge difference!

November 7, 2013 159 cropIn October, I took the October Unprocessed Challenge and spent the entire month eating only unprocessed foods.  It was a huge learning experience for me!  During the challenge, I felt terrific and full of energy all day long, I discovered some wonderful new foods and recipes, and I connected with a whole world of like-minded people committed to improving their health and supporting each other.  It became a lifestyle change for me and my family.  I found healthy replacements for a lot of the foods we ate, and I feel great about all the positive changes I have made to improve the health and wellness of my family.  To learn about ALL the benefits and challenges I encountered during this experience, check out my blog post here.

3.  How to Read Ingredient Labels

As part of the October Unprocessed Challenge, I learned how to read the labels of all those foods I had always bought out of habit without really knowing what was in them.  I realized the importance of knowing what ingredients I am putting into and on my body every day, as well as the source of these “foods” and products.  Many of the products we use every day are banned in other countries because they are dangerous to our health.  I came out of the October Unprocessed Challenge with a whole new awareness about foods, and I am committed to learning more in this area and helping to educate my family and others who are interested  in improving their health.

4.  Downtime is not wasted time.

This is something I have slowly learned over the years, but this year I really came to embrace it.  For most of my life, I was very focused on being busy and doing something productive at all times.  When I December 4, 2013 phone 059 cropbecame a mom 11 years ago, I was forced to slow down.  That was the biggest blessing I could have ever received!  I learned that life is about relationships, not productivity.  In the end, our relationships with God, others, and OURSELVES is all that really matters!

Stopping to be still and spend time with myself was difficult to do at first.  I felt guilty because I felt like I “should” be doing other things.  But I am so grateful that I ignored the “shoulds.”  Focusing on myself helped me to re-evaluate my priorities and get to know myself better so I can spend time doing things I really love to do and share my natural gifts and talents with the world.  This year I made it a priority to schedule “MY TIME” every week.  “MY TIME” consists of a block of 1-2 hours each week where I spend time alone and just let myself reflect on my life and write about whatever thoughts come into my head during that time.  I use the book “Life Makeovers” by Cheryl Richardson as a guide in evaluating the changes I am making or need to make in my life.  I have come to treasure that alone time each week.  It gives me time to recharge, and I feel I am better able to take care of my family and others if I take care of myself first and make that downtime a priority.  Because when mom is happy, then everyone is happy, right? 🙂

5.  Green Smoothies are Yummy!!

October 24, 2013 007 cropAt the beginning of the year, I had no desire to even try a green smoothie.  Now, I can’t imagine a day without one.  They can be absolutely delicious once you find a recipe that works for you (and even my 11-year-old daughter loves them).  I found that green smoothies are an easy way to get more veggies into my diet, they provide lots of nutrients, and they give me lots of energy.  Here is my favorite recipe, but substitute to your liking (really any fruits or vegetables you like will work):

1 orange fresh squeezed from the juicer (or use about 3/4  cup store-bought orange or apple juice, or even water)

3/4 cup organic baby spinach (or other greens…sometimes I use Kale)

1 frozen banana (I buy them from the reduced price section of the produce department…get them with brown spots, take them home, peel them, break in half, then immediately put into the freezer in a freezer bag.)

1/4 cup Plain Greek Yogurt

A handful of fresh pineapple

Blend in any blender.  Mine is over 12 years old, and still works great!  Be sure to blend the greens and liquid first until the greens are dissolved.  Then add the rest of the ingredients.

Check out simplegreensmoothies.com for more yummy smoothie recipes.

6.  The importance of saying NO.

This past year, I got really good at saying no.  I have learned how to set my priorities, guard my time better, and set boundaries.  It is so easy to say yes to all the little requests that people have of my time, but I have found that when I do that, I am left with no time left for me.  Sometimes we need to say no to people to say yes to God.  Saying NO was not an easy thing for me to do because I do want to help others and make their lives easier, but I learned that doing ANYTHING out of guilt or obligation is not an act of love.  I made a promise to myself at the beginning of the year to only do things out of love.  I learned that you can’t please everyone and there will always be people who don’t understand you or the decisions you make, but in committing to love myself more, I started to let go of my need to be accepted and I stopped caring about what anyone else thinks.  One of my favorite quotes is:  “It is none of my business what other people think of me.”  It felt really good to stand up for myself and be truly authentic by living according to my values rather than always following the crowd.  I also realized that the fewer commitments I have, the happier I am and the less stressed I am.  I re-evaluated my priorities, let go of commitments that I didn’t really love, and that freed up a lot of my precious time to spend on things I am passionate about so I can use my natural gifts and talents to help others.

7.  The many uses and benefits of coconut oil. 

Coconut oil has to be my greatest discovery of the year!  I love that stuff!  Before this year, I had never even heard of coconut oil, let alone use it in my daily diet and health and beauty routine.  It has many health benefits and is said to help with weight loss, diabetes, cholesterol, Alzheimers, and many other health conditions.  I can attest to it helping with cholesterol.  This year, I threw out my huge jug of canola oil and vowed to never bring that or any vegetable oils into my house again.  I now use coconut oil in place of butter and other oils in many recipes, and my “good” cholesterol went up and my “bad” went down. 🙂

Coconut oil has many uses for the skin and hair as well.  It is a popular ingredient in many homemade natural products.  I use it daily as a facial moisturizer (as an added bonus, it is naturally an SPF of 4).  I use it as a shave gel, lotion after shaving, and I use it in place of chapstick on myself and my daughters.  There are countless uses for it.  Check out 101 uses here, and check here for a short blog post I wrote about coconut oil containing additional links and more detailed information on the benefits and uses of this natural product.

8.  The answers are all within us.

I am passionate about learning about things I am interested in, but when I spend too much time listening to the “experts” instead of listening to my gut, I tend to get very stressed.  I am all for learning and taking advice from those I admire, but sometimes I need to just take a break from the book I am reading or lecture I am listening to and take the time to listen to my inner wisdom instead.  When I do start to feel stressed, I learned that the best thing for me to do is to stop everything I am doing, forget my to-do-list and all the projects I am working on, and spend my time writing instead.  Sometimes I feel like life is so exciting and there is so much to learn and do and there are not enough hours in a day, but I need to remind myself that I am not the master planner for my life.  Everything is happening exactly as it should and will happen in it’s own perfect timing.  Let Go and Let God lead the way…that is the way to peace.

9.  How to eliminate my shampoo and conditioner.

This one took a little while to get used to, but for about 7 months now, I have not used shampoo or conditioner on myself or my 6-year-old.  This is what I do instead:  I mix 1 Tablespoon of baking soda with 1 cup of water (I do this in the shower in a plastic 1-cup measuring cup) and pour it over my head for the shampoo.  I rub it in gently, and then rinse.  It doesn’t take long to rinse out because it does not suds up.  The thin consistency took some getting used to.  For conditioner, I mix 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar with 1 cup water, pour over my head, rub in gently, and rinse.  That’s it.  The Apple Cider Vinegar also took some getting used to.  I could not stand the smell at first, but now I am used to it and don’t even notice it.  When my hair dries, the vinegar smell is gone.

This idea was inspired by a blog post from The Art of Simple Blog.  Check it out for a more extensive description as well as reasons why you may want to try it.  It definitely is not for everyone, but it has worked for me and my 6-year-old daughter for over 7 months and has saved me a lot of money in shampoo and conditioner, and gives me peace of mind that we are not exposing our bodies to unnecessary dangerous chemicals.  Many hair products we use all the time in the US are very dangerous to our health.  The last time my daughter had a haircut (before we changed to the “no-poo” method), the hairdresser asked me what type of shampoo we used…I told her and she said to throw it away and don’t buy it again because it is banned in other countries (this is a shampoo I was using for MANY years.)  So many things are done out of habit…we just buy them because that is what we are used to, or we think it’s safe because everyone else uses it.  I think it is so important to become educated about everything we are putting into and on our bodies (this goes for our pets, too).  I’m still searching for a good “natural” shampoo that is inexpensive to use for my 9 and 11-year old daughters.  They could not get used to the consistency of the no-poo method.  As soon as I find a good one, I will post it here on my blog.

10.  Blogging

When 2013 began, I knew very little about blogging.  Having my own never even crossed my mind.  I discovered some blogs that interested me, but I never thought I could make one of my own.  I was very intimidated because I thought blogs were for “real” writers and authors, not for a regular person like me.  As a very private person, I couldn’t imagine everyone being able to read what I write.  But one day while writing in my journal, God opened my eyes and let me know that I need to share all these things I am learning.  So, I decided to listen and attempted to start my own blog.  It was very scary at first (and still is), but I am gradually gaining confidence with each post I write.  I still have so much more to learn about blogging, but it has been a fun experience so far.  I have discovered blogging to be a whole new world of opportunity and a wonderful community of like-minded individuals ready and willing to support each other, and a great way to share what I am learning.   Here are just a few of my favorite blogs:

http://wellnessmama.com/

http://theartofsimple.net/

http://www.diynatural.com/

http://www.eatingrules.com/

Looking Ahead to 2014

As 2014 approaches, I am very excited to continue on my journey to wellness in mind, body, and spirit.  I hope to discover many new unprocessed recipes, natural health care products, and tips to greater wellness.  I am grateful for the opportunity to share it all here on this blog.  I hope you will follow me on my journey and we can achieve better wellness together.  You can join me on my journey by following this blog and by following Journey to Complete Wellness on Facebook.  I wish you a happy, healthy, and blessed 2014!

Time to be Still

December 4, 2013 phone 059 cropThere is a time for everything.  A time for work, and a time for play.  A time to be busy, and a time to be still.  With the holiday season upon us and so many things to do in such little time, it is sometimes difficult to make the time to slow down.  But that is when it is especially important to find the time.  And today I did just that.  I went on a mini-retreat from 9:30am-1:00pm.  The timing was perfect for me, a mom who needs to be around to get the kids on the bus and also be there when they get home.  And it was just the amount of time I needed to recharge.

During the retreat, I connected with other women who were also there to get away from the distractions of everyday life and to find peace and to just listen to God speak to them.  Because God is ALWAYS speaking to us.  We just don’t always pay attention or stop to listen.

While walking around the gardens outside, I saw this beautiful message on this stone.  December 4, 2013 phone 003 cropwebI love the way the sun is beaming down on the stone, and if you look closely, you can even see a beautiful rainbow in one of the beams of light.  This message reminded me how important it is to get out into nature every day and recognize and appreciate the blessings that are always surrounding us. God is always speaking to us through nature, but we don’t hear until we stop and pay attention.  And when we do, we become like a child again, in awe of the beauty that is all around us.  Heaven on Earth happens in those moments.

Here is another picture I captured of the geese living on these beautiful grounds.  I love that nature is always available to us to offer us peace if we just stop to appreciate it.

December 4, 2013 phone 050 cropweb

I am so glad I took the time to slow down today and recharge.  I feel clearer, more at peace, and filled with love.  And I also find that when I do take time to be still, it actually makes me more productive.  It just helps me to see my priorities more clearly and it makes me focus more on what’s really important in my life.

I hope you are also able to make the time to slow down during this season.  You deserve it.  You are worth it.  And if you do, you will be amazed at the difference even 5 minutes a day can make in improving the quality of your life.  Take a 5 minute walk outside and just admire all the blessings in nature that are available to us every day.  Or if you celebrate Christmas and have a Christmas tree, maybe give yourself the gift of 5 minutes a day just sitting in silence admiring it.  That 5 minutes may just turn into the time of day you look forward to the most.  Give yourself the greatest gift possible at this time of the year…a little bit of downtime to just “be” and listen to what God has to say to you.  Enjoy this beautiful season of Advent.  God Bless!! 🙂

What Really Matters

I came across this beautiful poem this week, and it really spoke to me:

“When I’ll be dead, your tears will flow, but I won’t know…Cry for me now instead!
You will send flowers, but I won’t see… Send them now instead!
You’ll say words of praise, but I won’t hear…Praise me now instead!
You’ll forget my faults, but I won’t know…Forget them now, instead!
You’ll miss me then, but I won’t feel… Miss me now, instead!
You’ll wish…you could have spent more time with me…Spend it now instead!!”  ~Author Unknown

I feel so blessed to have spent two days of this Thanksgiving holiday weekend with my 4-year-old niece, Mya.  I am thankful for having the opportunity to play with her, listen to her laugh and sing, and watch her run around like any other 4-year-old, for what might be the last time.  She reminded me of what really matters in life…

November 28, 2013 050 crop web

Mya was diagnosed with a brain tumor one year ago, in November 2012.  She survived 6 rounds of chemotherapy and was in stable condition as of June 2013.  She spent 100 days in isolation while she began to gain her strength back.  Her hair began to grow back, her appetite came back, and everything was looking great.  Tragically, on November 6 she went back for an MRI and it showed the tumor had spread to different parts of her brain as well as her spine, and it is now in a very aggressive state.  The doctors estimate she has 6-12 months to live.  You can imagine how devastating this news was to her parents.

Until this past week, Mya was feeling fine with no symptoms.  On Tuesday, she started to experience headaches.  While at my house on Thanksgiving, she was experiencing headaches, vomiting, dizziness, and loss of balance.  There was nothing she wanted more than to join in and play with her older cousins, but the pain was so bad she could not concentrate, even with the medication.  Mya spent Thanksgiving night and most of Friday in the hospital.

This was the first time I had ever witnessed her with any symptoms.  Living this experience was much more difficult than just hearing about it or reading about it.  I wanted to take away her pain so badly, but there was nothing I could do.  I can’t imagine what her parents have been going through for the past year, wanting to take away her pain, but feeling so helpless.

On Saturday, we saw Mya again at another family gathering.  This was a much better day!  She had no pain at all and spent the day laughing, singing, playing, and running around playing with her cousins.  Knowing this might be the last time I see her, I focused on being truly present with her and really paid attention and appreciated seeing all those beautiful smiles, hearing her sing and laugh, and watching her play with my kids.  Mya loves having her picture taken, and she loves being behind the camera.  It was great watching her run around the house with my camera taking pictures of everyone and everything.  I am thankful she had a good day and we were all able to see her in a good state.

November 30, 2013 100 cropweb

Right now I don’t understand why this is happening to Mya and her family, but I trust that God has a reason for this and over time people will be brought together and many good things will happen because of her existence.  I know God doesn’t make mistakes, and everything happens for a reason for the overall good, but that doesn’t make it easy to watch Mya and her family suffer.

My time with Mya this weekend reminded me of a few things.  We all have little day-to-day problems, but when we change our perspective, we realize we are beyond blessed to simply be here.  Every person and experience we encounter each day is a gift.  We take so many things and people for granted each day and waste so much time worrying about the little things.  In the end, the only thing that matters are our relationships– with ourselves, with God, and with others.  We need to spend our time on what really matters, make the most of each day, and be truly present in everything we do.

Please pray for Mya as she begins radiation in the coming weeks to give her a little more time, and especially pray for her family as they prepare for something no parent should ever have to prepare for.

For the most recent updates and to view her entire story, visit http://www.fightformya.org.  Thank you and God Bless!!

The Season of Gratitude