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October Unprocessed Challenge 2016: 8 Days of REAL Food

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We are almost halfway through the October Unprocessed Challenge (eating only REAL food for the entire month of October)!  This is my 4th year taking the challenge, and I am still learning so much every day!

My greatest accomplishment so far this year was finding a recipe for taco seasoning that my whole family loves!!  Taco Tuesday is so much better now, and I feel great knowing exactly what is in the seasoning!  If I get nothing else out of this challenge, I will be happy about my new taco night discovery! 🙂

This year has seemed the easiest so far of all the years I’ve attempted the challenge (last year I only lasted a few days, and then I gave up!).  This blog is what is keeping me accountable this year, and knowing that I’m going to post everything I eat is one of the main reasons I haven’t given up.  Although it seems easier than previous years, this challenge is still a LOT of work and takes a lot of planning and prep, since I often have to make 2 meals for dinner since my kids will not eat some of these new foods (although I do make them try everything.)

Below is a list of EVERYTHING I have eaten for the first 8 days, along with links to many of the recipes.  It’s not 100% unprocessed (chocolate chips are my weakness), but I am happy with my progress so far.  I am surprised that I have not really had any cravings for sweets, and I have not felt hungry at all.

For more real-food recipe ideas each day, check out the Journey To Complete Wellness Facebook page.

If you have any favorite real-food recipes, please feel free to share them in the comments on this post or on the Journey to Complete Wellness Facebook page!  I’ll take all the help I can get! 🙂

October Unprocessed 2016

Saturday, October 1

Breakfast: Omelet with Peppers, Onions, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

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Snack:  Grapes ,cashews, raisins
Lunch: Salad (Romaine, tomatoes, cucumbers, raisins) w/balsamic

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Dinner: Honey Balsamic Sheet Pan Chicken

This is delicious!  I will be making this again (maybe a few more times this month)! 🙂

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Sunday, October 2

Breakfast: Gluten-Free Banana Pancakes

I love these, and my 12-year old daughter does, too!

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Snack:  Celery Stick, Raisins, Grapes, Cashews
Lunch: Leftovers from Dinner and  Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

The soup is so tasty!  My 13-year-old daughter loves it as well!

Dinner:  Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili

This was good, but my family was not crazy about it.  I had a lot of leftovers that I froze in individual portions to use later in the month.

 

Monday, October 3

Breakfast:  Chocolate Avocado Smoothie

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Snack: Plain Greek Yogurt w/1 T honey & 1T chocolate chips, Popcorn
Lunch: Leftover Chili
Dinner: Mozzarella-Stuffed Slow Cooker Meatballs

This is a favorite in our house!

 

Tuesday, October 4

Breakfast: Leftover Banana Pancakes/Kiwi/Slice of Boar’s Head Deli Turkey
Snack: Fuji Apple, 5.3oz Greek Yogurt, ½ T Honey & 1T chocolate chips
Lunch: Leftover Chili
Dinner:  Taco Meat w/Jasmine Rice, Lettuce, Tomato. Taco Seasoning

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Wednesday, October 5

Breakfast: Leftover Banana Pancakes with Grapes
Snack:  Grapes, Chocolate Chips
Lunch: Raspberry Peanut Butter Green Smoothie (I used grape juice)
Dinner:  Slow Cooker Chicken Tortellini Soup (w/brown rice noodles)

 

Thursday, October 6

Breakfast: Scrambled Egg w/Diced Tomatoes;grapes
Snack:  Peanut Butter Cookies, cashews

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Lunch: Leftover Chicken Soup
Dinner:  Pate Chinois

 

Friday, October 7

Breakfast: Leftover banana pancake, PB cookie
Snack: Yogurt w/honey & cc; apple; cucumbers,celery,dip,chips,salsa
Lunch: Leftover Tomato Soup
Dinner: Leftover Pate Chinois

 

Saturday, October 8

Breakfast: Leftover chicken soup
Snack: Kettle corn; Roasted Pumpkin Seeds
Lunch: Strawberry/banana/yogurt/milk smoothie
Dinner: Baked Haddock,rice pilaf, and Roasted Broccoli

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October Unprocessed 2016

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October Unprocessed starts tomorrow!

When I first decided to take the October Unprocessed Challenge 4 years ago, I had no idea what would come of it. I love a challenge (especially if it’s free), so I wanted to try it to see if I could do it (eating only REAL foods for an entire month.) I was also hoping to discover some new foods and recipes along the way so I could add more variety into our diets.  I did those things, but as I look back now, I can see that this challenge had so much more of an impact on my life than I realized at the time… it was actually life-changing for me.

Among other things, I learned that the body, mind, and spirit is much more closely connected than we may realize.  When we decide to honor and respect our bodies by fueling them with the foods nature intended for them, doors automatically open up to help us improve in the other areas of life as well.  It all comes back to self-love!

The first October Unprocessed challenge I took was a catalyst for so many wonderful things in my life. Immediately following that first challenge, I was inspired to start this blog, which has since led to even more amazing things! This will be my 4th year taking the challenge, and I can’t wait to see what comes of it!

If anyone would like to join me in this year’s October Unprocessed Challenge, you can sign up or find out more information about it here! It costs nothing to participate, but be prepared to spend a little extra time in the kitchen. The rewards are worth it, though!

My goal is to try to post on here once a week with updates on my progress and recipe ideas. On the Journey to Complete Wellness Facebook page, I will try to post daily recipe ideas and tips.  This blog is what is going to be keeping me accountable, and I hope you will join me on the journey and take one step closer to loving yourself more and becoming healthy in body, mind, and spirit.

How Our Attitude Affects Our Health

by Amanda Collier

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It is a true honor to introduce our very first guest blogger on Journey to Complete Wellness.  Amanda Collier is a writer and blogger with a public health background.  She has been at the helm of Murray Insurance Agency‘s Blog for the last 10 months.  Amanda is a talented writer with some very good advice, and I think you will like what she has to say.

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We’ve all heard the saying “attitude is everything,” but we rarely think of this in relation to our health. It is generally accepted that illnesses and injuries are something that happen to us, regardless of our attitude. Research and data is beginning to discount this outmoded belief, however. With the backing of studies, it is coming to be more widely accepted that attitude actually has a huge impact on resistance to disease, healing abilities, longevity, and overall wellness.

Attitude and Lifestyle

Your attitude has a direct impact on your lifestyle, but this may not be easy to see when you are living through it. If you feel positive about the day ahead and see yourself as competent enough to handle whatever comes your way, you may be more likely to engage in healthy habits. Walking, working out, drinking water, eating healthy, all of these behaviors seem possible and easy to do when your outlook is positive. A negative outlook may make these activities seem overwhelming and impossible.

Coping with Challenges

The way that we perceive challenges and the way that we choose to cope with those challenges can be improved by facing obstacles with a positive perspective. People tend to improve quicker and see better results when facing health challenges like illnesses and injuries with a positive outlook. While an optimistic approach can have some benefits in itself, people that have a positive outlook also tend to be solution focused and more committed to treatment plans.

Dealing with Emotions

It is impossible to bottle up emotions and stay positive. Freely expressing emotions can be therapeutic and can help individuals to live with a strong positive outlook. In some cases, it may be helpful to see an emotional counselor in order to work through difficult emotions and regain a bright outlook. Emotional counseling may sound like something that is out of reach, but many health insurance plans now help pay for these services because of the indisputable link between emotional and physical health.

Focus on Improving Attitude

A positive attitude is something that can –and should – be cultivated. Shifting to a positive outlook takes thoughtfulness and diligence, but can have lasting benefits on all areas of your life. Over time and with practice you may eventually find that you default to positivity, your first thought in any situation is a positive one.

The following are a few ways that you can work to shift to a more positive attitude:

  • Be conscious of your immediate thoughts and whether they are positive or negative
  • Identify some things that you think negatively about, such as body image or your job, and work on engaging in more positive thinking about those areas
  • Exercise regularly so that your excess energy does not turn into internal stress and negativity
  • Eat healthier so that your body feels better and your mind does not have discomfort to dwell on
  • Banish negative self-talk and work on replacing it with positive self-talk
  • Socialize often and make sure that your circle is filled with positive people

20 Ways to Love Yourself More

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Taking time for your own self-care is one of the greatest things you can do for yourself, for those closest to you, and for your community.  Once you are able to love and accept yourself unconditionally, that love eventually pours out to others in an authentic and loving way.

In the case of an emergency on a plane, you are told to put on your own oxygen mask first before you assist others.  That is because you will not be of any help to anyone else if you run out of oxygen.  The same is true in other areas of life.  Loving yourself is the first step to loving others.  When we care for ourselves first and make our own needs a priority, we are better able to help those around us.  Here are 20 ways to love yourself more:

  1. Make sleep a priority in your life.  Make sure you get 7-8 hours of sleep each night, or the amount of sleep your body needs to wake up refreshed.  If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, here are some tips to help you get the sleep you need.
  2. Drink more water.  Water is required by every cell of the body and it keeps every part of your body working properly.  Do you get the amount of water your body needs?  Guidelines for the amount of water you should drink every day are controversial and vary depending on the weight, gender, and level of activity of each individual, but the old standby of 64 oz per day is still a popular recommendation.
  3. Take a yoga class.  Yoga is a fantastic tool to help improve your health in body, mind, and spirit.  In addition to improving your flexibility, building muscle strength, and perfecting your posture, yoga can help you in so many different ways.
  4. Go for a walk outside.  Go with a friend, go with your dog, or go by yourself.  What is important is that you get out in the fresh air and reap the benefits of nature.  Nature restores health.  From the sun providing you with Vitamin D to the minerals in the rocks on the ground and everything in between, everything in nature is medicine!
  5. Observe one day of rest every week.  On this day, you will do no work.  Instead, you will take the time to slow down, relax, live in the present, enjoy time with your loved ones, and be grateful for all of the blessings surrounding you.  Personally, I feel this practice is the best thing I have ever implemented in my life.  It is not easy to do in this world that promotes busyness 24/7, but the rewards are many!  Give it a try, and see what happens.
  6. Plan time for creativity.  We were put on this earth to create.  Whether you want to believe it or not, you ARE an artist.  We all are.  Whether you like to paint, sew, draw, write, take pictures, or create music, it is time to honor that artist within you and make the time to let yourself create.  Ideally, it would be great if you could set aside some time every day, but if that is not possible, schedule time at least once a week to let your inner artist come out and play.  Don’t worry, those things that you think you “should” be doing instead will still be there when you have finished.  Try it.  Schedule time on your calendar right now.  You will thank yourself later.    “Creativity is God’s gift to us.  Using our creativity is our gift back to God.” ~Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way
  7. Embrace your uniqueness.  Accept yourself exactly as you are.  Recognize that you were born with the personality traits needed to help you fulfill your purpose here.  Nobody else is here for the same exact purpose as you, so there is no need to compete or compare yourself to anyone else.  Although our society praises some traits over others, know that your personality traits are not weaknesses.  Learn to accept and embrace what society defines as your “imperfections,” and use the natural gifts and talents you have to help make the world a better place.
  8. Take a Real Food Challenge.  You will be surprised at how much energy you will have.  100 Days of Real Food is a fantastic resource for some great real-food recipes!
  9. Practice Gratitude.  View every encounter and experience as a gift.  Even the seemingly bad situations are a gift in the end.  Try to recognize and appreciate these gifts every day.  Think of three things you are grateful for RIGHT NOW.  Keep a gratitude journal.
  10. Move your body.  In any way you wish.  Find something you love to do, and do it!  Dancing, cleaning, walking, gardening, hiking, or swimming are just a few examples, but it could be any activity you enjoy.  The important thing is that you get up and get moving.
  11. Surround yourself with those who love, support, encourage, and inspire you.  Be kind to everyone at all times, but spend the majority of your time with like-minded, positive people.  Let go of draining friendships, stop hanging out with people who are negative or those who spend their time gossiping and complaining, and do not tolerate disrespect from anyone.
  12. Practice doing one thing at a time.  Do not multitask.  Do one thing at a time, give it your all, and be fully present in everything you do.  Heaven on Earth happens in the moments when you are fully present.  I know this isn’t easy to do.  Especially if you are the primary caretaker of a young child who requires your care 24/7, I recognize that you NEED to multitask.  I’ve been there.  But even a few minutes of focused presence can make a big difference.
  13. Learn something new.  Make the time to learn something new that interests you.  Were you always interested in learning how to decorate cakes or Irish Step Dance, but you never found the time?  You need to MAKE the time.  Take one step toward that today.  Get a book at the library, watch a You Tube video related to your interest, or sign up for a class.  Get out your calendar now and schedule some time to do this.  You will thank yourself later! 🙂
  14. Keep a journal.  You may be surprised at some of the insights that go into it.  The wisdom is all inside of you.  You just need to take the time to be still and let it flow.  Writing in a journal can also be very therapeutic and help you to release some of your worries and fears.
  15. Forgive.  Let go of all bitterness you have toward others.  It is not hurting them at all.  It only hurts you, and the longer you hold onto it, the longer it eats away at you.  If you don’t let it go, eventually those emotional issues can manifest into physical illness in your body.  Choose to set yourself free and forgive everyone now, including yourself.  Remember, everyone is just doing the best they can with what they have in the moment.
  16. Practice Mindful Eating.  How often do you eat while doing other things?  If you’re like me, it is most of the time.  I find myself eating while I work or while I drive to save myself time and increase my productivity, and as a result I end up eating more than I realize because I’m busy doing other things.  I think a lot of health issues our society faces today are due to an unhealthy relationship with food, and I believe mindful eating could help with that.  When you eat mindfully, this means you are sitting down at the table and doing nothing else but focusing on the food you are eating.  The television is not on, you aren’t working or checking your phone or e-mails.  If you want to appreciate your food more and enjoy it more fully, give mindful eating a try.
  17. Say no.  And don’t feel guilty about it.  When you do anything out of guilt or obligation, that is not acting in a loving way.  Be honest with yourself and others.  Your time is precious, and it must be guarded fiercely and spent only on those things that are important to you.
  18. Spend some time in silence every day.  Meditate.  Pray.  Write.  Create.  Do whatever it is that helps you to be still and listen.  God speaks to you in the silence. Recognize that downtime is never wasted time.  Downtime is necessary to help you to develop your most important relationships of all – with yourself and with God.
  19. Stop trying to be perfect.  In this physical world, there is no such thing as perfect.  Just do the best you can, have a positive attitude, and view every mistake as a learning experience.  Every mistake you have ever made in your life has helped to shape you into the person you are today.  Recognize that as a gift!
  20. Plan your days, but not your life.  Remember, you do not set the master plan for your life.  Make daily to-do lists to help keep yourself on track and improve your productivity, but stay flexible.  Embrace distractions and view them as gifts.  Everything is happening in its own perfect time, so stop trying to rush everything.  Stop trying so hard and just let go and allow God to work through you.

BONUS idea:  Take a Self-Love challenge.  Get to know yourself, recognize your accomplishments, and learn to identify your goals and priorities and what is important to you at this point in your life.   Learn to honor your time and achieve the balance in your life that you have been looking for.

For more ideas on how to love yourself more, or if you would like help implementing some of these ideas into your life, check out my book, The 31-Day Self-Love Challenge.  The book expands upon many of these ideas and provides step-by-step guidance to help the readers implement them into their lives. 🙂

For more self-care tips and inspirational stories and quotes, please like my Facebook Page, Stacy Rancourt

What is YOUR favorite self-care tip?  Please leave a comment below.

11 Tips and Tools to Help Ease Your Worries and Fears

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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?

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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.

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

The 31-Day Self-Love Challenge Is Now Available!!

Do you want to live a more authentic, peaceful, and purposeful life? Do you want to live your life to the fullest and use your natural gifts and talents to make the world a better place?  If so, I am SO excited to introduce you to my very first book, The 31-Day Self-Love Challenge!

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This 31-day guided journal will help you learn to recognize your worth, identify your purposes in life, and develop the habits necessary to become healthy in body, mind, and spirit.  It is intended for anyone who is starving for a little bit of alone time, or anyone who is willing to dedicate a little more time to get to know and love yourself more. If you know anyone who could benefit from this book, I would be grateful for your recommendation. It is currently available through Amazon here.

Also, if you enjoy inspiring quotes or would like to follow my journey as an author, please “Like” my FB Author page Stacy Rancourt.

Visual Quote: Love Yourself First

lucille ball love yourself first

Acupuncture: My First Treatment

acupuncture needlesI had my first acupuncture treatment this week.  Yes, I willingly had needles stuck into me for no particular reason.  If you’ve never had an acupuncture treatment done before and you’re wondering if it hurts, I had the same question.  I’ll describe my treatment and hopefully it will answer some of your questions and help to alleviate some of your fears.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine that uses needles to help the flow of “Chi” (life force energy) in the body.  This energy flows through and around your body along pathways called meridians.  Sometimes the “Chi” becomes blocked or unbalanced due to stress, physical trauma, poor diet, addictions, or other causes.  When this happens, it causes illness in the body.

Acupuncture is a way to unblock the chi and help it flow back into balance.  If you’re seeking treatment for a medical condition, the acupuncturist will assess your condition and determine where the imbalance may be and then select a treatment strategy.

Acupuncture needles are inserted in the skin at specific points along the meridians.  This helps to unblock the chi, restore harmony, and heal the body.  The depth of the needles varies depending on the area of the body it is inserted.  The needles are sterile and are thrown away after one use.

Acupuncture originated in China thousands of years ago, and it is the oldest continuously practiced system of medicine in the world.

Benefits of Acupuncture

Acupuncture is best known as a treatment for pain, but it may also be used to improve health in other areas such as:

  • Mental-emotional imbalances, including stress and anxiety.
  • Preventive Care – Helps boost immunity
  • Respiratory diseases, including asthma and allergies
  • Digestive orders
  • Helps alleviate pain, including arthritis, headaches, etc.
  • Neurological
  • Dermatological
  • Helping to overcome drug addictions
  • Women’s Health Issues, including menstrual issues, infertility, and menopause.

My Experience with Acupuncture

This week, my boss booked an acupuncture “happy hour” for our weekly team meeting.  I had never had acupuncture before, but I had heard of the many benefits and I’m fascinated with Chinese medicine.  I was looking forward to giving acupuncture a try.

I was the first one of my team to arrive.  I walked into the building, excited for this session, but not knowing what to expect.  As I opened the door, the pleasant fragrance of essentials oils filled the room and immediately calmed me.  The acupuncturist greeted me and began explaining some of her background and the benefits of acupuncture.  In the background, soothing nature sounds played quietly on a CD to create an even more relaxing atmosphere.  The walls were filled with Chinese artwork, fans, and calming pieces of art.

Once the rest of my team arrived, the acupuncturist explained a little bit about acupuncture and its benefits, and then she offered us a drink of goji berry juice mixed with other berry juices and edible essential oils which she diluted in seltzer water.  She claimed it was extremely high in antioxidants and would help to boost our immunity.  She warned us of the strong taste.  We each cautiously took a sip.  The taste was fruity and not overly strong, and I thought it was refreshing, so I drank it down.  After the drink, she took 2 of my coworkers into the room, while my boss and I waited quietly in the waiting room until it was our turn.

When my coworkers came out of the room about 30 minutes later, they were so deeply relaxed.  I was looking forward to a nice, relaxing session as well.

It was my turn to go in.  I walked into the room.  Two acupuncture tables were set up with blankets and pillows on top.  I went to the farthest table and sat on the edge of it.  My boss came in and took her place on the remaining table.  The same soothing music that was playing in the waiting room was also playing in this room.  The smell of essential oils filled the room as well.

The acupuncturist came into the room and explained exactly what she was going to do since neither of us had experienced an acupuncture treatment before.  She opened a new package of needles and showed them to us – fine as a hair – that is why they do not hurt when inserted.  She explained we might feel a slight pinch or pressure when it is first inserted.

I went first.  She began by gently rubbing Bergamot essential oil to my wrists, ears, forehead, ankles, and feet.  Then she inserted the needles in those same spots.  It didn’t hurt.  As she had explained would happen, I felt a little pinch in some areas when she first inserted the needle, but in others I didn’t feel it at all.  Once the needles were in, I didn’t even know they were there.  I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and relaxed as she moved on to my coworker.

When she was done with my coworker, she turned off the light and left the room.

It was a very relaxing experience other than the fact that my feet were cold.  She forgot to turn on the heat lamp before she left the room.  My focus kept turning to my feet, so it wasn’t as relaxing an experience as it could have been.

She returned about 20 minutes later, removed the needles, and rubbed more essential oil on my ears.  I sat up, slowly put my shoes and socks back on, and joined my co-workers in the waiting room.  I felt relaxed.

Would I do it again?  Under the same circumstances, yes.  Or if I had a medical condition, yes.

However, I probably would not pay for a session just for relaxation.  In all honesty, I experienced a much deeper level of relaxation during a reiki treatment.  Maybe it was because my feet were cold, or maybe because I was not the only one in the room.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am so grateful for the opportunity to experience acupuncture.  It was calming.  It was painless.  It was relaxing.

I think acupuncture can be very useful for so many conditions, and the benefits are many.  I would definitely recommend giving acupuncture a try if you have a medical condition.  Or, if you experience pain, I would recommend giving acupuncture a try as an alternative to pain medications.  I am excited that acupuncture is becoming more widely available, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to experience it!  I would certainly recommend giving it a try!

THE Technique to Help You Overcome Your Fears, Phobias, and Limiting Beliefs

Would you like to overcome your fears, phobias, and limiting beliefs?  Of course you would!  We would all love to release our fears, but sometimes we hang onto them because it feels safe to stay right where we are in life.  But if you are ready to take your life to the next level, you need to make the decision to let go of these fears, phobias, and limiting beliefs that are keeping you stuck in the same rut, sabotaging your success, and preventing you from growing into the person you were meant to be.

There is a technique that can help you find relief from stress, anxiety, pain, fears, limiting beliefs, and more.  This technique can be beneficial in all areas of your life, including your health, wealth, relationships, level of happiness, and much more.

But here is the BEST thing about this technique:

You can use it anytime, anywhere, it doesn’t require the assistance of anyone else, it is absolutely free, and it is very simple to learn!   It sounds too good to be true, right?  Well, it really does exist, and I know from experience that it really does work! 🙂

What is it?

The technique is called EFT(Emotional Freedom Techniques) Tapping.

It is a tool that has proven to be highly effective in helping people to overcome their fears, phobias, limiting beliefs, weight struggles, financial worries, and other issues they may struggle with in life.  Tapping is a combination of ancient Chinese acupressure and modern psychology.  You use your fingertips to tap on specific points on your body while voicing your fears or other issues that you would like to improve in your life.

My Story

I know from experience that Tapping really works!  One of my daughters developed some physical health issues last year.  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.  These health issues caused her a great deal of anxiety, which resulted in the development of some fears that really starting 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 discovered the reason she was afraid to go to school was because she had witnessed a student vomiting in the classroom. She was afraid the same thing would happen to her.  We tapped on these issues every night.  She looked forward to our tapping sessions because they really put her mind at ease and helped her to relax so she could fall asleep and stay asleep through the night.  If we skipped a night, she would wake up several times in the middle of the night in a panic, feeling like her throat was blocked.  Within a few weeks after we started tapping, all of her fears were gone and all of her health issues were completely resolved!  It’s been almost a year now, and thankfully none of her health issues (or fears) have returned!  Thanks to tapping!  It definitely seemed crazy at first, but I am a believer in it now! 🙂

Learn How to Tap from the Experts for Free

Would you like to give it a try for yourself?  The picture below from Thriving Now shows the tapping points on the body.tapping images

To learn exactly where the tapping points are and for help on what to say, Jessica Ortner offers the perfect beginners guide to tapping in this video.

If you would like to learn more about Tapping, visit The Tapping Solution to watch more instructional videos for free, learn the science and research behind it, and download some very useful tapping sessions to help reduce stress (these are the sessions I used with my daughter.)  There is even a film on tapping called The Tapping Solution Documentary, and a book by Nick Ortner called The Tapping Solution.

Please understand that some of the more traumatic issues you may be trying to overcome may require professional help. If you begin tapping and an issue comes up that feels like it is too much for you to handle yourself, please seek the guidance of a professional counselor.

Good luck, and if you have (or have had) great success with tapping, I would love to hear your story.