Good Stress Vs. Bad Stress

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With the abundance of self-help and self-improvement books and video’s, all the education and information on being mindful and removing the stress and negativity, it would be easy to just start cleaning house and completely getting rid of people who don’t make you feel absolute joy.  However, some stress in our lives is good.  In order to grow as individuals we need to be challenged.  So how do we determine when the ability to grow is lost and the stress is simply just unnecessary?

I have a select few people in my life that come to mind that I originally believed were challenges put in my path to help me grow.  I tried to connect more and leave myself open to their thoughts and ideas because I knew they were so vastly different from mine. I thought maybe I was missing something so I allowed myself to get involved in conversations and be challenged only to feel worse after the interaction.  After some time has passed I realize that any engagement with them just leaves me feeling frustrated and exhausted and not enlightened or joyful.  I realize, I do not feel I am learning or growing from the interactions, I am just walking away more stressed.  It has opened my eyes even more to how important it is to create boundaries and maintain balance.

You know when you have a found a person who says things that create an Ah Ha! moment within you.  These are the conversations you want to partake in because you feel like you could talk to them all night.  Their approach in how they explain their thoughts are just fascinating and you are eager to pick their brain and learn more. You walk away wanting to read and research more on the topic and feel inspired and joyful instead of drained.  This is how you know you are engaging with a person who is promoting positive growth.

Even some of our closest family members or coworkers will have vastly different beliefs.  I have found it is best to  just listen in the moment and not engage.  Then I can  research their words later to form my own informed opinion.  In the research process we learn that either we should adjust our perspective a little (or maybe a lot) or we become more confirmed in our own beliefs, either way we are learning and growing.  It is easier to come from a place of wanting to understand than a place of debate, and often we are so set in our own beliefs that we forget our original intent.  If someone does not ask my opinion I have decided not to give it.  This can be very hard, but if someone is spouting off their beliefs and never stopping to ask your thoughts and ideas I have found it is best to just let them talk.  You learn a lot more when you listen anyway, even if it’s just that the other person is full of it.

I have also found unfollowing certain individuals on social media is in my best interest when it comes to setting boundaries.  I enjoy getting on Facebook to see happy and funny things my friends post, but if I start getting an over abundance of negativity and confrontational information on my feed I will unfollow.  It is a simple solution that doesn’t completely remove the person from your circle, it just cuts out the stress for you.  If you don’t want to constantly see Sally’s relationship drama that you have advised her on numerous times, or Karen’s religious beliefs, or Tom’s political views or even Mandy’s cooking pics, or Gretchen’s gym pics… for whatever reason, then just unfollow.  You do not have to justify your reasons with anyone just click the button and go on about your life.

The good stress is learning to listen and not say a word, learning to research it later and form an educated opinion on the subject so that when someone does stop to take time and ask your opinion you can answer intelligently and confidently.  If you feel stress creeping in ask yourself if this is something worth stressing over?  Is it necessary to engage in that moment?  Are you stressing about something in the past or something in the future?  Stressing about things you cannot control is pointless and not productive unless you plan to take action in some way.  So ask yourself, in that moment when you feel your body reacting and your thoughts start to follow the stress path…Is this something I can take control of and if so, how?  Take steps to tackle the problem because action is the key.  Prepare yourself, if you know you are going to encounter a person who instigates stress within you at a party or gathering, then have a plan so you already know how to proceed.  Preparation is a form of taking action even if your plan is to do nothing more than smile, say hello and walk-away.

Creating healthy boundaries for yourself is a great way to fight stress.  We all have our own limits on different things.  Maybe you are struggling with weight so hearing about someones diet or seeing gym pics is not motivational for you right now.  Maybe you are strong in your faith with God and seeing posts or conversations from your atheist neighbor causes you stress.  Maybe you are strong in your political beliefs and seeing the opinion of the opposing party gives you stress.  Maybe you just went through a horrible break-up so seeing wedding pics or baby pics with a happy couple is just depressing for you.  This doesn’t make you a bad person if you struggle in a moment to be happy for others and it doesn’t make you a closed minded person if you have done your research on certain beliefs and already know where you stand. It is okay to set boundaries tailored specifically for your personal circumstances in that that moment.

Good stress gets your blood pumping because you are being motivated or pushed to be better, learn something new or tackle a project.  There should be some kind of positive outcome.  Bad stress is when your blood starts pumping and you feel frustrated, angry, or just exhausted at the thought, sometimes even anxiety, dread, sadness or a sense of panic will come over you.   Learn to be self aware, be gentle and honest with yourself.  As you clue in to how your body reacts and the thoughts going on inside your head, you will know which kind of stress is being activated.  What one person finds as good stress and bad stress may not be the same for you.  Nobody knows your mind-body connection better than you do.  Boundaries and balance is key in managing your stress levels so don’t be afraid to make the changes that work for you.

With love, happiness, health


You Are Not Smarter Than Everyone Else

I have been observing a certain characteristic that seems to jumping out at me lately.  In the process of noticing it in others it has made me very self aware and alert to whether or not it comes from me as well.  I have noticed this seemingly very small twist in perspective may be more associated with the young and immature, but it really jumps out at me when I see it in more mature adults.  Two specific individuals come to mind but they are extreme cases. I think there may be a degree of it in all of us that we need to be more conscious of.  At first I had trouble deciding how to explain it but here it goes…

When discussing certain aspects in life we may come across conversations where we are debating politics, religion or maybe just the motivation or point of a particular movie.  In my personal experience it was a christian based movie on abortion.  So instantly when you hear a christian based movie based on abortion what is the immediate thought that comes to your mind?  As an adult, most likely you understand the point of view that will be taken in the movie and you know when you decide to watch this movie that you may need to filter through the information given.  In this process you apply your own personal views, knowledge and experience on the subject and come to your own opinion. That is why some movies are rated, because the rated R movies (like this particular one), can be viewed with a parent or adult and discussed afterwards.

I watched 13 Reasons Why with my daughter because we recently had a friend take his own life.  I was able to answer questions and discuss all kinds of things that my daughter would not have considered or understood because of her age and lack of life experience.  However, when discussing movies like these, or other topics, with other adults I sometimes get this feedback that it is assumed not everyone is able to filter through and process things the way they do.  They come off like other people are lacking in common sense or knowledge and unable to see that a christian based movie on abortion is going to lean a certain direction.  Well of course it is!   I trust that most adults in life understand this and are still able to watch the movie and take something away from it.  If a person only ever watches movies that completely fit their beliefs or only ever have conversations from a perspective that everyone else is clueless and unable to rationalize or be logical, then what does that say about them?

Now, I understand that there are adults out there in the world who may watch a movie based on true events or watch a news report on television and believe every aspect of it without question, but I do not believe this is the norm.  I have faith in the human race, I have faith that most individuals understand there is often going to be bias and undertones that we must filter through in order to make healthy and wise decisions for ourselves.  So, if you are going through life believing that you have all kinds of things figured out and that everyone else is in the dark please know this is probably not true in most cases.  If you are a self-help coach, counselor, motivational speaker, weight loss coach, a teacher, professor or any other of the many professionals who teach, guide and motivate individuals to see the world in a new perspective then you most likely already know that often those individuals end up teaching you just as much as you teach them.  Give people the benefit of the doubt and understand that maybe they see things just as clearly as you do, (maybe more so) and sometimes still do not agree with your perspective.  At that point maybe you could take pause and ask yourself what you can learn because the truth is, you are not smarter than everyone else.

With health, happiness, love and understanding,



Love Thyself

If you looked through my eyes you could see it so clear.

If you felt it with my heart you would understand my fear.

I don’t want to be weak or have such doubt.

I don’t want to miss my chance by living without.

At the end of the day I must make a hard choice.

I think it, I feel it, but I can’t use my voice.

I know I can’t wait forever, but maybe a bit longer.

Take my time and make sure I am stronger.

We all learn lessons through happiness and pain.

We all learn what is important through loss and gain.

At the end of the day, it’s not about possessions or wealth.

At the end of the day, it’s the love I have for myself.


With love, happiness and health,


Spring Into Action & Organize Your Life!

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When the weather starts to warm up and I can turn off the heat and open windows in my home and office I feel this sense of cleansing come over me.  This airing out of my space inspires me to want to completely clean out everything which overflows into other areas of my life.  The very definition of Spring Cleaning comes from this feeling many of us get, this urge to clean-out the old of Winter and welcome in the new and fresh for Summer!  I believe cleaning and organizing your personal, physical space is the first step to cleaning and organizing your mental and emotional space.

When I have a big project or paper I need to tackle at work or at home I always feel this need to make sure everything is neat, clean and organized before I start.  When there is a lot of clutter around me I am more likely to become distracted and frustrated while trying to work.  I constantly have home projects or work projects that involve getting more organized so I can be more efficient in my life.  Kitchen, bathroom, closets, desk drawers and even my car gets the once over when Spring rolls around.  Tidying Up, with Marie Kondo will take your organizational skills to a whole other level and I must say, watching an episode of Hoarders is also very motivational for me to start cleaning my house.

Cleaning out pantries and the refrigerator and throwing out old expired food, washing refrigerator shelves  and drawers, pulling dishes out and cleaning inside cabinets, cleaning out closets and drawers and giving away any items we no longer use…this process can be very therapeutic.  Having the things we do use on the regular in a certain place so we always know where to find them and making sure we always return them to that place is a great habit to start if you don’t follow this rule already.  As we clean out and freshen up our personal spaces it is good to think about donating items, books we have read that a friend may benefit from or clothes, shoes and dishes. I personally find the cleaning and organizational process very fun because I find things I forgot I had.

I must admit that I am currently cleaning out my closet and found an old VCR with a box of VHS tapes of movies that I loved when I was a teenager (Goonies, The Lost Boys, Practical Magic).  Do I really need to save this stuff?  Well I plugged it all up and yes the VCR still works and The Lost Boys is still one of my favorites!  I watched it while I wore a feathered Mardi Gras mask I had from the St. Louis Mardi Gras I went to like three years ago….see cleaning is a fun and therapy all rolled into one!  My daughter walked in on my me watching a movie in my mask and instantly walked back out of the room without saying a word.  As we grow older and live a full life we collect things over the years just like we collect mental baggage with memories of love and loss and fun and adventure.  It is good to acknowledge and be thankful for everyone and everything that has touched our lives and made us who we are.  So as you clean-up and clean-out make sure you give thanks.

I have kept a box with pictures, post-cards and letters that are special to me so that I can share them with my daughter and generations after me.  Unfortunately, I did not have a close relationship with my grandparents because they all passed when I was very young.  Not having many pictures or memories of the generations before me has made me make more of an effort to leave something behind.  I wish I knew more about my grandparents and what it was like for them growing up.  When Phil and I go on vacations I love to find something special to take home from each trip and add to my memento box and all the items have a story. Someday I hope to share each story with my grandchildren. My little box of mementos is fun but I usually try to collect items that are not just mementos but items that have a dual use, coffee mugs that I love, and canvas art from pictures I have taken, wind chimes and a potted cactus from a seaside farmers market are all things I have saved and displayed in my home.  Items like these not only add to your decor but they are unique to you and I feel that is what makes a house a home.

Having a clean organized home and office, surrounded by things you love is one of the best ways to stay connected to your past in a healthy way but also motivate you in the future.  When you are cleaning and reorganizing think about that next fun trip, finding something unique to bring home and add to your art on the wall (or my favorite two weathered rocking chairs I bought at a beach side flea market for $20).  Think about the stories and memories you will have to share with generations to come.  Clean out the old, the unused and the negative and keep what makes you feel renewed and inspired.  Allow the Spring cleaning process to clear out your life physically and mentally.

With wishes of love, happiness, health and organization for all…




Never Enough

Has the words “never enough” played through your mind before?  Do you constantly find things about yourself or your life that you want to improve upon?  At what point does a healthy drive for self-improvement turn in to something defeating and negative?  I am a weird mix of a dreamer and a doer so even though I pursue bigger goals for myself constantly, I also find myself dreaming about the what-ifs.  I love my job, but also go to school full time trying to complete my degree so I can pursue a bigger career goal.  I love my home, but I am constantly painting, remodeling and landscaping to make it my dream home.  I am a pretty healthy individual, but I know I can always do better and lose just a few more pounds….and the list goes on.  Are we all on a hamster wheel of betterment?  If I just stopped all my pursuits, sold all my stuff and lived in a little hut close to the beach and waited tables at a local diner for the rest of my life, would I be a failure?  Would I regret it? Or would I be happier?  When is it enough?

Is it crazy to think that we are all just one choice away from completely changing our entire lives?  My daughter is graduating high school next month and goes off to college, she has a job and her own car and a boyfriend.  Her life stays busy with friends and work and school.  When I divorced I stayed in the small town I currently live in because I wanted my daughter to have a relationship with her Dad.  Even though I dreamed of moving to another state and starting over.  Now that my daughter is ready to spread her wings and fly I find myself at a point where I could actually consider moving.  However, with the passing years in this small town changes have occurred, I bought a home, went back to school, made lots of friends, met a wonderful man and the idea of moving and starting over isn’t as appealing anymore.  I have started this new path and things seem to be falling in place fairly well, but sometimes I still dream of escaping to that small place near the beach with a lot less responsibility.

So where does our need to be great come from?  Are we trying to keep up with the Jones’s so to speak?  Are we trying to make someone proud or make a bunch of money so we can have the nice car, big house and take extravagant vacations every year?  Do we just work-out and lose the weight so we can look hot in our summer beach pictures and get the compliments on social media?  How much of what we are working for is really for us?  How much of it is really what we value in life?  When is it enough?

When I feel overwhelmed from constantly pushing for a better future I make myself stop and reflect.  If I don’t slow down sometimes I feel the possibility of burn-out coming.  I evaluate what I have in my life and take time to be thankful for where I am, what I have, and who I have become.  Once I have taken the time to be thankful, I fully accept it and all the good and bad that comes with it.  Maybe you have a long way to go to get where you want to be but accepting it and knowing that you are trying is the key.  With acceptance comes relief of being able to let go of the need to push for more.  Just stop and take a moment to fully embrace where you are in this very moment in life and know that it will change.  How it changes is up to you, don’t push too hard, don’t force it, just allow yourself to embrace the moment and actually enjoy the process.  If there is no joy in the process maybe you should let it go.

At the end of each day make peace with yourself in knowing that you put out effort, maybe not as much as the day before and maybe more, but that doesn’t matter because the world is constantly changing and tomorrow is a new day.  Be thankful for each day you have and don’t waste it by constantly focusing on the future.  Stop and take a breath, become fully present and enjoy the moment you have right in front of you and know that right now, in this moment, you are enough.

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With love, happiness, health and knowing you are enough…


Genetic Trauma


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Recent psychological journal articles with great research findings by Rachel Yehuda, professor of psychiatry and neuroscience at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, and wonderful books like, It Didn’t Start With You, by Mark Wolynn, have opened the door to the idea of how inherited family trauma can effect us; not just through repeated cycles in our family environment, but genetically.  This idea has been floating around in my head for a while now and I am excited to see it being discussed more in psychology.

If we are able to find genetic markers for red hair or blue eyes, then is it really so far fetched to believe that we may be genetically marked with unique trauma that could cause certain individuals to be more likely to suffer from PTSD?  In Wolynn’s book it explains, your grandmother became pregnant with your mother and at 5 months pregnant your mother was already forming the genetic make-up for her ovaries and the number of eggs available for fertilization.  From the time your grandmother was 5 months pregnant that egg in your fetal mother is YOU, being affected by every bit of information filtered through your grandmother and mother until the day you are born.  The stress, trauma, good and bad, happy and sad, along with all the nutritional choices going through pregnant grandma and then mother will have an impact on you.

Not to bring this back to a hardcore religious point of view, but some could say this is what the Bible means when it says we will suffer the sins of our father.  All those health choices you are making and the environmental situations you allow to continue in your life will inevitably affect your grandchildren and generations after them.  Fathers will produce many sperm throughout life, but that one sperm released at the point of conception that actually seals the deal with the egg will also contain some genetic influences that go beyond physical traits.  Scientist are still researching and exploring just to what extent, but the findings so far have been pretty amazing.

Some of the research I have read has covered the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors and how such awful trauma in the family can reverberate throughout generations even though those generations never really suffered any actual trauma themselves.  The science goes further to research the rise in suicide rates and the possibility that many diagnosed with unexplained mental illness, depression and anxiety could be suffering from past family trauma showing up genetically.  This idea is controversial to some and still needs a lot more research, as I dig further the findings are pretty remarkable.  In the end the real question I ask is how it changes how we, as individuals, look at the world around us?  Maybe we think those nutritional choices, drugs, alcohol, smoking or lack of exercise, the abusive relationship we stay in or the stressful job we choose to return to day after day is really only effecting us.  The truth is, those choices could be affecting multiple generations after you in a much bigger way than we could have possibly imagined!  We already know stress is one of the number one causes of disease in the body.  If you knew your work stress would come back on your grandchildren would you continue to work the way you do now?  What changes can you make to live healthier and happier for you and the generations that come after you?

With health, happiness, love for you and future generations,


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