Loving Yourself to Better Love Others

This post semi piggy backs off of my “Choosing Joy” post which I wrote many months ago but recently reposted.  Trying to remain positive and let my complaints be voiced in my own head and then forgotten about has been an immediate focus of mine lately.  I am still trying, and struggling, to let go of past experiences and memories that no longer serve me. Recently, I was asked “If you are having a bad day does it stay a bad day or can you come back from it?”  This really made me think and I realized I often let a bad day stay a bad day but I can choose to let the negativity fade away and choose to be positive.  It didn’t really seem obvious to me that I get to choose how I feel.  Some of you reading this may think “DUH!” but it really wasn’t apparent to me that I am in control of my day to day.  Sometimes the most simple questions make you think the biggest.  I often let my emotions and how I’m feeling decide life for me, which isn’t alway a bad thing, but in terms of negativity it wasn’t a good thing.   045bd73febc84fadfd48ac80ae850a42

Last week it was my birthday.  My husband gifted me one of my favorite gifts to date, a raindrop massage.  You are maybe wondering ‘what the heck is a raindrop?’  I have little knowledge on it but it is an essential oil based massage and something about it really woke me up and affected me in the best way possible. I think I need these monthly and highly recommend them!  I also took an Aroma Yoga class a few days later, so again essential oil based, and it was just plain and simple amazing. (You might be gathering that essential oils are my thing and they are really beginning to touch on many aspects in my life that maybe need a little ‘home improvement.’)   The focus of the aroma yoga class was being your true self.  We all need to have the ability to be best selves.  All too often I, and I believe others, focus on the negative and it can and will completely consume us.  We forget about our purpose and why we are doing what we do.  If you are like me you might take the negative things you hold onto out on others closest to you or silently sit in your own bitterness unwilling to let it go.  It is a seriously toxic cycle and can be very difficult to get out of but the thing that will snap you back to reality the quickest is awareness.  At the aroma yoga class a sheet was handed out with some information on the oils being used along with a few graphics.  One that stuck out the most to me was 7 Things to Let Go Of.  It stuck out to me because I am guilty Every. Single. Day. of allowing them to pick away and me and break me down.  So let me share…

7 Things to Let Go Of:

– Negative Self-Talk

– Things You Can’t Control

– Complaining

– Your Past Mistakes

– The Need to Impress Others

– Fear of Change

– The Opinions of Others

I have noticed a shift in things I choose to do with the goal of positivity in mind.  For example, last summer I gathered a collection of books and made it my summer reading list.  All of the books were fiction, which is fine, any reading is good reading in my opinion.  As of now I have collected another group of books but not a single one is fiction.  They are all ‘self help’ books for lack of a better explanation.  I crave material that will make me think and possibly change my perspective for the better.  I have also found myself praying more, for myself, for my kids, for my relationship with my husband, for our family, and just for guidance in general.

After all of that I haven’t exactly touched on the title of what I felt fitting for this post and something that has been cycling around in my head.  As I have said in others posts, especially those relating to parenting, you have to take care of yourself before you can be there for everyone else.  Recently, though I realized it is more than taking care of yourself, you HAVE to love yourself, who you are, and what your purpose it.  You get to choose to do all of those things and isn’t that seriously wonderful.

 

Finding Financial Freedom – Part 2

Well its been a minute since I have been able to sit down and lay all my thoughts out. Life has gotten busy but not in a bad way! Throughout all the organized chaos we have really been attempting to get a grasp on our current financial situation and our future plans for where we want to be and how we want to get there.

We officially began our Dave Ramsey lessons the beginning of October but we had started to conceptualize what we wanted to do with our money a month or so before than. We knew a change was needed or reality was going catch up to us quickly. We weren’t in trouble but we were playing on a slippery slope as a one income family. We were getting by just fine but the stress we were feeling was less than ideal and we didn’t want to live on the edge anymore. In the few months we have been doing this our thought process on spending and saving has changed immensely. We could certainly buckle down more and make even bigger changes but we are taking this is small strides and making progress at our own pace. The Dave Ramsey program has been an excellent outline for us, as I find his speeches very empowering, but we are doctoring things as needed for ourselves.

So, step one was obviously getting in our own head space and saying “You have to do this, you NEED this change, and its all laid out for you.” So we started the program. The first lesson was an eye opener. Justin was more than willing to ‘try’ the program but I don’t think he was fully willing to believe the methods and practices Dave speaks were going to make that much of a difference. One lesson and Justin was on board and myself even more so. We both were stuck in a place living outside our means and believing our lifestyle choices were necessity. Let me clarify however, really not a lot has changed which I acknowledge doesn’t exactly make sense and likely leads me to contradict myself a little, or a lot. What I mean is that we ultimately have not had to sacrifice that much we have just become smarter about how we spend and more importantly when we spend. See, here was our spending cycle in a nutshell before: We ‘needed’ something (really we wanted something) so we grabbed a credit card, purchased it, and said we will pay it off next week when the next paycheck comes in. Done. No sweat off our backs right? Wrong. Here’s the deal, we probably could afford the thing but we didn’t plan for it. We saw it, we wanted it, we took it home. Had we just waited until the next week, thought about it more, and maybe even changed out minds about wanting it, we likely would have saved money and not racked up a credit card. You live and you learn though right? We are fixing our mistakes and making positive strides!

I really think the biggest key to our success has been opening our minds to other options and possibilities. There is always more than one way to make things work, always. Of course you cannot be successful without making actual changes so that is a vital part of all of this as well. Here is what we have been able to do in the last few months…

We sold our pickup and bought a new (to us) vehicle. That’s completely backwards right? You would think so but we were into something that we could afford the monthly payments on but we couldn’t’ exactly ‘afford’ the vehicle. That’s where a lot of companies get you on approving you for larger loans. The monthly payment is manageable but it really doesn’t make the item any more affordable, you just think you got yourself a deal. We made the seriously difficult decision of parting ways with something we both loved and found as a necessity, and for us it still is, but right now it just wasn’t logical. We purchased a different and 100% reliable vehicle and now have $10,000 less dollars in debt to our names. That was actually one of our first and bigger steps. It felt good, but it was also scary and somewhat frustrating because we were giving up something we both really enjoyed. We did it though, its done, and we are going to be better because of it.road-sky-clouds-cloudy.jpg

We have also paid off almost $1000 in credit card debt which completely eliminated 3 full credit cards. I will own that I am the guilty party in our marriage who has 80% of the credit cards but they are out of our wallets, cut up, and no more apart of our life. We have also been able to pay for out of pocket expenses that we normally would have just thrown on a credit card and worried about later. Last week were were able to get a part replaced on one of our vehicles that normally would have stressed us out and the end result would have been as I just said, a quick and thoughtless swipe of a credit card. This was all done with money that was already set aside and the funny thing is we had this money before but using credit cards was just apart of our normal routine. This is the importance of having an emergency fund because that money is intended exactly for that, emergencies; situations that cannot be ignored and have to be dealt with such as fixing a vehicle. The first baby step in the program is quickly saving $1000 that is strictly for emergencies and it is a super important one!

We have also been able to add more to our savings in the last few months than we probably have done in the last year. That’s what is most rewarding to me. While I love watching our debt disappear it gives me even more satisfaction to see our savings account grow even larger and provides me a real sense of security. Truthfully though, we are still only at the beginning of this process and it is super exciting to know we will only continue to pay down our debt, grow our savings, and secure a future for ourselves and for our girls! I am so happy we decided to take a chance on ourselves to improve not only our relationship with finances but also our relationship with one another as husband and wife. It has helped us open up more lines of communication and realize that we have nothing to be ashamed of but now is the time more than ever to fix whatever mistakes we have made in the past and move forward in a positive way.

 

(Originally Posted on November 30th, 2017)

Choosing Joy

It is easy to cling to negativity. I am 100% guilty of letting one bad moment take an entire day away from me. I complain all too quickly or get in a mood about something insignificant. I let problems, both big and small, steal life away from me. Instead of getting caught up in things that impact my day to day in a not so great way I’m trying to focus on happiness and ultimately choosing to be joyful.

Of course the idea of choosing joy is a much easier idea to read or write versus truly live. I am still human and I am still going to struggle. That’s alright because in the back of my mind I have a goal. Choose joy. A few things made my mind wander to the idea of choosing joy (and also a few visual aides that literally said “Choose Joy”). There are so many things in life that give us purpose and when I have a purpose I usually find myself happier. Let’s go back a little… take yourself to your childhood. What made you excited? For me, it was reading (and other things like recess time and new toys) but I always have had a love for books. I love the smell and feel of a new book. It’s fun for me to pick out and buy a new book, take it home, and get lost in it. (Where my Harry Potter fans at?!) As I got older things like Friday nights became exciting. Sitting in class on a Friday was always less painful because you were focused on your weekend activities and maybe those nostalgic Friday night football games in the fall were sort of everything to you at the time. Skip the college years because the term “young and dumb” applies heavily here. Deny it if you want, I’ll let you, because I know all too well there are so many things I would like to forget. All good learning experiences though right 😉 Then comes some really good stuff the older you get…. getting engaged, planning a wedding, your wedding day, starting a family, starting a new job, moving around (maybe just once or maybe like three times). However, everyones life tells a different story and your path may not and likely will not be the same. Does that matter? Nope. Is your life still joyful? Absolutely. I live far from perfection and that’s just fine. Sometimes I forget life isn’t perfect yet I try to reach for it, but that’s unrealistic and doesn’t make me happy. I want to live with a purpose not as a symbol of perfection.

Motherhood has been one of my greatest joys. I can (fairly) vividly remember the first breath each of my girls took and their little, yet strong, beautiful cries. The relief I felt knowing they were here was beyond words. As your children grow and surpass milestones it never loses its shine. The first time your baby sleeps through the night (or at least most of the night), rolling over, crawling, walking, talking and becoming more independent with each passing day…it’s all amazing and has provided me with a love and a sense of completeness I cannot even began to describe.

Joy doesn’t have to be big memorable events however. It can and should be the small things, what brings you joy can literally be anything and you get to decide what those things are. Maybe it’s that first cup of coffee in the morning. Possibly its accomplishing a work or personal goal. Maybe it’s your toddler snuggling in to your lap and telling you that she loves you. The options for what brings you joy are endless. I believe we all get so caught up in the big picture we forget that life has small details too that are important. So, tell your family and friends you love them and say good morning to that random person you cross path with on the street. Maybe you just gave them something good to go off of for the day. It really is the little things.

Choose joy.

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(Originally posted on October 1st, 2017)

Finding Financial Freedom

So lets talk about money. Forewarning: I really know nothing about responsibly spending, budgeting, saving, and so on. Don’t start reading this and think you might leave with tips of how to be more financially savy because I have little to offer. Consider this a way for me to journal and organize my thoughts as myself and my husband dive into the world of budgeting and (gasp!) really being responsible adults planning for the future. Not to say we are irresponsible because our bills are paid on time and we are taken care of but things add up and mistakes have been made with credit cards. I also wanted to share because I know we are not alone in the everyday struggle of finances. Anxiety and stress over money is a real thing, it affects everyone. So, off we go!

Currently, we are a one income household as I am graciously able to stay home with our two children. Discussions of me going back to work pop up every now and then but what about daycare? We strongly suspect that any income I would generate would cover daycare costs with little take home at the end of the day for us. As of lately we have begun to feel the strain a little more and are looking for answers on what to do. I think what we both have failed to realize at this point is there is no cookie cutter response to answer anyones financial woes. You have to work for it and want it. Do you want to be debt free? (I really wanted to say worry free but ya right, if you are absolutely worry free in your life I don’t even believe you.) Ok, so make it happen! Lets do this together. I want nothing more than for my head to hit my pillow at night and just go to sleep, not think about the bill I wasn’t expecting to pay this month and wondering how that is going to affect us.

So where do we even begin? I’ve done a little (and by little I mean pretty minimal) research on budgeting plans and tips and always leave overwhelmed or discouraged. My mind immediately goes to a negative place and I think, “You cannot be frugal and have fun, theres no such thing.” Well there is, you just have to and likely NEED to learn to live within your means. We all have personal and financial limits and just because your neighbor got a brand new SUV doesn’t mean you need one or that there is anything wrong with the vehicle parked in your driveway.

Here are a few things I have found that have helped changed my thinking just by reading them and starting to practice them along with some other things we are going to try:

Lets start with your thinking process when purchasing:

1. More money doesn’t always mean more money. Ok, let me explain. So as I mentioned we are a one income household. Often I hear my husband say “I need to make more money, we need more money.” While this may or may not be true what I do appreciate is that he has goals for us as a family and for himself as an individual, which I support 110%. BUT what we have both come to realize is that up until now (while we are working on changing our ways) more money to us would have meant more spending, possibly a bigger house, or nicer cars all of which are not things we need. This is where we both need to learn to live responsibly and within our means. I am not saying its a bad thing to want to be paid more, absolutely not, but to want more money to simply buy more might be your first red flag. We are picking up on our mistakes and reigning in our mindless spending.

2. Following the trend of #1 lets talk about the actual purchasing. Two things I have read that have really helped me think about my purchases… “Do you really need that item? What will happen if you don’t buy it?” So, do you need it? Did I need that super cute wooden handmade sign I saw the other day? No. Did I want it? Yes. I didn’t buy it. I looked at it and actually thought do I need this and what happens if I don’t buy it. Nothing happened. I went home and there is unspent money in our checking account. Baby steps.

Secondly, what motivates you to spend? For me personally I am an emotional spender. In the past if I have had a long and trying day with the kids I might go to the store for awhile and leave $100 later on things that we will use but we didn’t need. First recognizes what causes you to spend and then nipping that in the bud is going to make a world of difference. I realize there are other things I can do to de-stress other than spend money.

Now a few other things we are going to try….

3. Spending freeze. I really think this will be our biggest challenge. No purchases outside of necessary items such as grocery, gas and bills. They recommend doing it from one paycheck to the next but we might have to take it slow with this one and try it for a week and then see how we do after that week is over. Definitely a learning curve for us with this one.

4. Balancing a checkbook again. I can say I haven’t done this for years, and by years I mean like 10. I always “guess” what is left in our account only to sign in and say “oh shit.” Knowing what is in there at all times is key in my opinion. If you know your exact amount I think you are less likely to spend on things you want.

5. Ditch the credit cards. We have now removed all credit cards from our wallets and that’s where we have felt it the most, but if you don’t have the funds don’t spend the money!

6. Limit how often you eat out and plan ahead for meals. We spend the most when we don’t have dinner plans (at home) because we quickly order a pizza or go out somewhere.

7. Buy generic, store brand, off brand…whatever you call it. I will fully admit that I am a brand name snob and have been for awhile. I always have had this stigma against store brands assuming they are less of a product. We have been trying more and more store brand items and they are proving to be fine. The one thing I cannot get on board with in terms of store brand though is diapers. I have tried several times and I just do not like them. I want to but I don’t. Suggestions anyone?

8. Want products but can’t afford them? Currently we live in a time of major multi level marketing companies. There are so many, and if there is a product you have been eyeing but can’t justify the cost find a consultant, ask about hosting a party and what the hostess benefits are. I just hosted an online Pampered Chef party (all done on FB) and got just over $200 in product for about $65.

Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University
We are going to be investing ourselves in this together. I have looked into it for awhile but have just assumed its outside of our realm of having success with a budgeting program. I really don’t know why. I just purchased the kit and we will be attending a 9 week class which I really think is going to motivate us the most as the kit is $99 and when held accountable my personal success for things goes up. I’m pretty excited to get started on it especially for the class.

A few other apps and savings programs to try…

*Groupon
*Ebates
*Ibotta
*Savings Catcher for Walmart
*Every Dollar Budgeting Program
*Cartwheel app for Target
*Target DEBIT Card (NOT credit card, it will save you 5% every time you shop and gets you the same benefits as the credit card.)

I would open this post up to questions but I don’t know that I will have answers for you on a lot, still ask them if they are there. Comments, tips, or advice on things that have worked for you are always appreciated!

As always…. drink the coffee then do the things! Be amazing!

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(Originally posted on August 30th, 2017)

Post Baby Life

My body has grown, sustained, and nourished two tiny precious human lives. When you think about what it takes to bring a tiny person into this world its pretty amazing. How can something so wonderful come from what it does? As moms, our body tells this tale. Stretch marks take over areas of our body and sometimes in places you didn’t even know stretch marks were possible. Maybe your shoe size changed or you have a permanent stomach pouch that no matter how many sit ups you do your mid section proudly lets everyone know: I had a baby. Thats ok mama. It’s going to happen, you are going to hate your body somedays but its important to remember why you have flaws and to accept and love those flaws.
We live in a society totally obsessed with body image. How do we navigate these waters OmdalenFamily-22.JPGand still accept ourselves when we are subjected to so much judgement about what may or may not be wrong with our bodies. I’m still trying to accept the flaws I have been blessed with. In the last 4 years I have lost 20 lbs gained another 30lbs, lost it all and then some, gained it all back, and then lost some again. Now I find myself at a standstill. I don’t love my body how it is at the moment but I also cannot find the motivation, that doesn’t cause me stress, to have what is “right and perfect” to me. Several years ago I had impressive results from a few month stint with Weight Watchers. Upon becoming pregnant with our first daughter I dropped the diet but still found it had taught me better eating habits even when not following the program. Of course eventually I basically forgot about it all but amazingly enough the weight just melted off (thank you breastfeeding) after she was born. Fast forward a few years later and here we are with two sweet girls and more body changes later. I have since tried Weight Watchers again and failed. A few months later another program that I knew would produce results if I could stick to it but I couldn’t without placing unnecessary stress on myself between meal planning (which I hate) and finding the energy to get a work out in.
As a mom to young children I want to place my focus on them and not be losing my mind about whether or not I have balanced enough meals for the week. Today I ate a handful of trail mix for lunch because thats what I had time for between my piles of laundry, phone calls to get my appliances that seem to keep breaking fixed, and still being present for my girls. Do I want to be healthier? Absolutely. I just wish we could all cut each other some slack and realize tight and toned bodies aren’t realistic for everyone. We all have a different story about why we are the way we are. We all have different struggles for a variety of reasons but some of those struggles are somewhat the same. We are dissatisfied with this, we need more of that, or there is too much of something.
I do genuinely think physical health is of utmost importance but we are only human and I am going to eat a cookie (or three) if there are some in front of me. I don’t want a one size fits all image of perfection for myself or for my kids. There needs to be a focus on happiness that still incorporates health on a physical and mental level. If working out daily and following a strict diet plans makes you happy then why wouldn’t you. If moderate exercise and eating the best you can is most comfortable for your lifestyle then that should be your goal. Do what you need to do to sustain a happy and healthy life for yourself and others in your household. Follow your own lead!

Be happy and be healthy friends!

(Originally posted on July 6th, 2017)

Embracing the Mess

Today (and probably tomorrow) I’m letting my house be a mess.  As a stay at home mom I really try to stay on top of things but its not always possibly.  This isn’t the first day my house looks like it got turned upside down and it won’t be the last.  With Justin having more work demands and less time at home I’ve been “on my own” a little more.  Of course I am never without some sort of emergency back up, but ultimately sun up to sun down its me.

So today I decided I’m not cleaning a single thing.  I’m not even going to change my kids diapers… Joking!  I’m joking.  They might be the cleanest things in the house right now.  Laundry is still being done as are the dishes, because those are 2 things that I can’t neglect EVER, as much as I would like to.  The laundry I’m folding though might not get put away immediately and the last load I put into the dryer may sit in there until tomorrow.  Thats fine.

My floors can be swept tomorrow and vacuumed another day and what isn’t essential can wait for the rest of today.  I am 100% human and I can’t do everything.  No one can.  My whole point in this entire post is that you need to cut yourself some slack.  Regardless of how many hats you wear and what they specifically represent life is just busy.  I’m normally a little OCD about cleanliness and organization in our house and all too often I get way bent out of shape because something isn’t getting picked up fast enough.  You can often find me running (almost literally) around our house trying to keep up with the mess the kids are making and doing all the other things needing to be done.  Today I’m embracing the mess.  I’m letting my house be a home thats lived in.

So, cut yourself some slack friends.  Just a fast and hard reminder you can’t do it all even though you really want to.  Don’t wear yourself down trying to knock out that mile long to do list.  Take a rest and enjoy your kids a few hours longer, read a good book, or watch that show you’ve been dying to start or catch-up on.

RELAX and LIVE.

 

 

Balance

Life is a total balancing act. Whether you are married or not with or without children its all about finding that semi close to perfect balance in all of your relationships and commitments. Entering into adulthood you quickly discover how difficult that balance can be to maintain. Add significant others and tiny humans who depend on you into the mix and you are really walking a tightrope a majority of the time trying to keep everything in line and still be sound of mind.

Just think about all the different areas of life we touch on just in our day to day… work life which comes with social relationships often, home life which is an absolute whirlwind of many different areas, immediate family such as parents and grandparents, your social life and keeping in touch with friends. So, how do we do it? How do we give an adequate amount of time to each of these important areas in our lives? I wish I knew! For some time Justin and I have been trying to find that perfect balance for everything but I’m not really sure it exists when we as individuals are always being pulled in so many directions. While it is frustrating its good to remind ourselves that its not always necessarily a bad thing because it just means our lives are full, and full of good things that keep us preoccupied. We would both love to have more personal time, more time together for just the two of us, more time to do things like exercise and do some extracurricular activities, more time for each of our families, just more time. I think thats something a lot of people find themselves saying “If the days were just a few hours longer I could get everything done…” So, again, how do we do it? How do we live to enjoy the little (and big) things when we are so busy with absolutely everything.

I think the only answer I can come up with to the questions I asked is that you just have to learn to let go of the little things. Don’t worry about the things that don’t have to be done right now or even tomorrow. Often times I let a pile of laundry or a sink full of dishes distract me from time with my family or cause me stress I don’t need to subject myself to. I have a tendency to get distracted by household tasks when I should be enjoying my kids while they are small and spending those moments with my husband when both kids are in bed and we can have an adult conversation.

Maybe you even need to find some literal balance in your life by taking a yoga class or going paddle boarding during the summer months. These are things you can do for yourself or together as a family. I think for the most part we all need a lot of figurative balance in our lives and when someone discovers that absolute perfect balance to all aspects of life I hope they share it with everyone.

How do you keep your life balanced?

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(Originally posted on June 13th, 2017)