Life Without Alcohol

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I do not drink on a regular basis and when I do I don’t usually drink much.  However, as I have aged I have become much more aware of how alcohol affects me physically and emotionally.  I have slowly began to cut out alcohol in my life and it really isn’t a big deal until I make social plans with friends.  I have realized that a large part of my social connections involve having drinks.  Bowling night with the girls often involves cheap beers at the bowling alley.  Meeting up for brunch involves mimosa’s or a bloody mary, lunch at the winery includes a bottle of wine, dinner and drinks or girls night at someones house often involves a blender and frozen margaritas.  It has become the social norm to automatically assume I will be drinking if I go out for the weekend or hang out with my friends.  How do we adjust our social lives to no longer revolves around alcohol?

It has been my goal to steadily create the healthiest, happiest version of myself.  So I ask myself, what would bring me joy and truly allow me to feel better at the end of each weekend after spending time with my friends?  As I began to brainstorm I thought of many great ideas but the real challenge would be determining if my friends were up for it too.  A spa day with facials, massages, manicures and pedicures.  Meeting for breakfast and having a yummy flavored coffee or tea instead of an alcoholic drink.  Working on our health by taking a yoga class or going for a hike.  Getting cultured by planning a day of museums, the ballet or opera, a play or musical or just going to watch live music and order something fun to eat that you have never tried before.  Be a kid again and go to the zoo or an amusement park and order the lemonade and eat a corn dog! A game or movie night with lots of good food and get creative with creating non-alcoholic punch or spritzers that feel like you are getting something special, just not the hangover the next morning!  Build a bonfire and make apple cider, hot cocoa or special coffees to enjoy while talking about life.  Make questions and put them in a bowl before the evening starts and then let each person draw from the bowl to stimulate the conversation.  Put the phones away, the alcohol away and really engage in getting to know each other again on a personal level without anything standing in the way.

We self medicate and escape the stresses of life with alcohol or constantly reach for our phones in a moment of silence instead of just taking it all in and fully appreciating a moment.  It is something special to be fully aware and clear minded, to see others and really want to connect.  This world needs more of that and I hope to create more within my circle of friends.  I find that technology and alcohol seem to be the common distractions or things that keep me from feeling my best.  What do you need to remove from your life that is a distraction keeping you from connecting on a deeper level with yourself and others?

With love, health, and happiness,





Grief Recovery


As I move forward in my mental health counseling graduate school I realize that I have a passion for working with couples and grief counseling.  My ultimate goal is to combine my 15 years of working in holistic wellness with my counseling practice.  This will include yoga, mindfulness, meditations, visualizations, Ayurveda, and neuroscience and many other processes to help individuals have a full and healthy life in body, mind, and spirit.  As I move forward in my education, while working full time, I often feel extra stress and I usually manage it really well.  However, I have realized with my recent loss of a relationship combined with my daily stresses has resulted in sickness.  So, as I sit here in my bed on day two of no work I realize my mental process is now negatively affecting my physical and my immune system has finally relented.  Grief affects us all, whether it be loss through death or loss through divorce or a breakup, it will have an affect on a deeper level than we realize.  Not allowing yourself to grieve is a recipe for disaster.  If you push it away now it will find a way to resurface later.

Grief often works in cycles but it doesn’t mean that once you move through one cycle that it is done.  Often we can cycle back more than once through the sadness or anger if we do not properly process or we encounter a situation that brings up memories.  Even with all my knowledge of different methods I have still allowed my mind and body to absorb and hold on to some negativity.  Yesterday I spent most of the day in bed.  Body aches, exhaustion, tension throughout my body, nausea and just an overwhelming feeling of sadness and anger had taken over my body.  In the process of doing a body scan I realized my solar plexus area was, and still is, extremely sore.  This area of the body is connected to our self-esteem.  When it is blocked it will not only create all the symptoms I was physically having, it is also directly tied to self-esteem, and mine has recently taken a hard hit.  Self-love, self-acceptance and knowing your self-worth are all vital to the health and balance of your solar plexus chakra.  So how do I get myself out of this negative place, get myself back in balance, restore my mind, body, and spirit back to health?

The first big step is to move passed the feelings of loss and get myself on the path of acceptance in the grief process.  The relationship whys and what ifs no longer matter, let it go and stop talking about the other person and the relationship and change the focus to yourself and the future.  After a relationship ends we feel rejected or maybe guilty, depending on the circumstances, and this can lead to negative thoughts and feelings towards ourselves.  So the second big step for me in home care is to focus on building myself back up, understanding this was not about me not being enough or not being worthy, we were just not in alignment and no longer on the same path.  I can work towards building my self-esteem and self-worth with EFT and positive affirmations.  Caring for the nausea and body tension can include herbal tea, healthy food choices and a little yoga and meditation.  When a specific area of the body is ill and suffering I also find visualization is a great tool in the healing process.

I picture my stomach area red and irritated with a bunch of knots tied in a rope and the redness is pulsing.  Then I picture the redness fading to a lighter pink, then purple and a calming cool blue and all the knots in the rope slowly coming loose and floating freely.  This process helps relax my stomach and ease the nausea along with a nice ginger tea and maybe even a warm bath with some essential oils.  With tea and toast I can build my strength to do some light yoga and stretching.  All of this process combined with rest can help reclaim my positive energy and overall well-being.  It is also good to remember that what we are taking in through all of our senses can affect us, so watching sad or negative shows on television, talking with friends and family about the negative situation, or even listening to sad music can magnify the grief and cause you to cycle back through a process over and over again.  The goal is to plan for the future. What is your new game plan?  Your life is changing and what new goals are you setting for yourself?  The focus needs to change from then to now and looking forward.  Take time to write down things you would like to do differently or goals that you want to work towards.

This is also a good time to reflect on what you have learned that was good, but do not let yourself get caught up in the negative in an effort to find the positive.  Desires for what you want in a future relationship should be more clear as well as desires for yourself, like boundaries you may need to make more clear for yourself moving forward.  The grief process does not have to be all bad.  I have often said perspective is everything and the ability to take joy in knowing that you are moving forward in a positive way with new growth and a clearer vision of what you want in life is empowering.  Remove the memories, stop replaying conversations and move towards acceptance.  Accept the relationship as a learning process and now it is over and time to move on to a new lesson in life is the best.  Be gentle with yourself and understand you must love yourself first and foremost.

With love, health, and happiness,


Staying Positive


It is just a fact of life that some days we struggle more than others to find that positive flow.  We may have a really good and obvious reason for the struggle and some days we are just in a funk that we cannot really explain.  Trying to force yourself out of the funk and to be positive is just impossible and actually not recommended.  Sometimes it is best to just fully feel the funk and own it, but in this process have a little talk with yourself.  I know the idea of talking to yourself may sound weird but the truth is most of us spend our lives in our heads having conversations we never really share out-loud with others.  So go ahead and call yourself out on your own crap and then start assessing what is going on in your life.

I don’t care who or where you are in life there is always something to be thankful for.  If there is a will there is a way to focus on the little things in life that bring you joy, I don’t care if its petting your cat or sneaking in to peek at your beautiful sleeping baby…maybe its just being grateful you have running water or clothes on your back.  Just find some starting point to be grateful and run with it.  Once you start in the process of listing all the things you are grateful for then you may want to try some other techniques to find your positive vibe.  I often use a focus wheel which can be Googled and found easily.  The basic concept is to write your intention in the middle of the circle and the ‘spokes’ of the wheel are positive intentions that help you zero in on the center goal.  You can find many examples and even free printouts, or simply create your own.  Now, these are two great starting points, but lets go a little deeper into the real quest for finding your positive.

When I am really struggling to find my mojo I ask myself a few question:  How has my diet been?  Am I drinking enough water?  Have I been getting enough exercise?  Have I been drinking more alcohol lately?  I am a big believer in the mind and body connection and how everything we process through our senses affects us to our soul.  So choose food wisely and before you consume it take time to be grateful for it and ask it to bless your body.  We already know how important water is to the body so make sure you are drinking enough because being dehydrated will affect your mood.  I believe we have all heard by now that exercise can also boost the mood so if you are not moving every day you need to find time to amp it up!  A simple walk in the early morning or after dinner in the evening is a great way to boost energy and mood.  My last question is about alcohol, but you should take into consideration all drugs or meds you may be ingesting.  Alcohol is a depressant and I can tell it has a definite affect on my mood, especially the day after consumption.  I am not talking about a hangover, I am talking about just a couple of glasses of wine will push me over the edge if I am already struggling with something in my life.  Be self-aware of what you are putting in to your body and how it may be affecting you.  What we see, hear, taste and touch affects us on a deeper level than we may realize. So consume wisely.

I am a big consumer of podcasts, audiobooks, youtube videos, guided meditations and even uplifting music when trying to find my positive mojo.  I also incorporate incense, candles, and essential oils into my home so I am receiving positive smells.  I am a big believer in massage, meditation, yoga, chiropractic adjustments, and tapping.  I incorporate all of these into my wellness process to keep a healthy, positive flow within my body and mind.  When you are taking care of yourself and creating personal spaces at work and home that give you a sense of peace it is so much easier to find your positive flow.  We all lead such crazy, busy lives that it is easy to hit a bump in the road and just go on a downward spiral.  Having a game plan and things that work for you to practice easily throughout your day can help you refocus.  I wake up each morning listing off everything I am grateful for as I go through my morning routine.  I listen to my positive music, podcasts and audiobooks on my drive to and from work.  I light a candle or incense and use oils in my bath in the evening and then do a little quiet meditation or tapping session before bed.  Sometimes I replace my morning caffeine with an herbal tea if I am feeling bummed because I know it will be more soothing to my soul.

Find your routines and explore new concepts to get you in that positive flow.  I am always looking for new ways to improve my life.  I think nature is one of the best ways to fully get mindful and realize, whatever struggles we may be going through, we are all part of something bigger, we are not alone, and knowing that makes this big, beautiful mess of life so much sweeter.

With love, health, happiness…and hopes for you all to have a fantastic and blessed day!


Habit Stacking

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I often hear people talk about wanting to start a new diet or exercise routine or maybe wanting to make more time for other things like reading or meditation.  Then, on the reverse end of the spectrum I hear people discuss the struggle of trying to quit bad habits like smoking.  Often the discussions involve words like motivation, willpower and discipline, but the truth is it really is not about any of those things, its more closely related to creating a habit through cues and routines.  The best term I have heard used for the process is habit stacking, taking a routine you already have that you like and is working well for you and stacking new habits on top of it to create an endless stream of productivity.   The end result?  A life you love!

Most of our lives are built on little habits that are triggered by cues that we may not even be aware of.  At noon you may eat lunch even if you are not hungry, when watching a movie you may eat popcorn even if you are not hungry…brand name companies have become experts at connecting fun activities like socializing with friends, going to the movies or going to a sporting event with their hot dog, beer or soft drink.  Even in the grocery isles we can see how the store is set-up and product placement in order to boost sales of the more expensive items.  So knowing this about our world around us and knowing that this process works why not use it in other areas for your own advantage?

I have been habit stacking for a few years now and the results have been amazing for me.  I have also become more aware of certain cues or triggers for bad habits I had created in life, once you are aware you can modify.  I arrive home from work and instantly want to put on comfortable clothes, get some food and relax on the couch in front of the TV after a long day.  I allow myself one hour of whatever show I am currently in to and then the goal was to shut the TV off, clean up my dishes and head down the hall to my bedroom for my nightly routine.  However, in this process I already saw bad habits starting to creep in.  I would get really interested in a show and decide one more episode was okay but I had also created a habit of eating while watching so I would reach for ice cream or a cookie if I would continue to watch.  I am in a current job that is a lot of sitting at a desk all day and so my activity level has greatly reduced in the last year.  With no activity and more snacking in front of the TV it was easy to predict what the future would hold, so changes had to be made.

Goals are easy to have, the steps on how to get there are the keys to success.  This is where habit stacking comes into play.  My goal is to get more active and make sitting in front of the TV and snacking less rewarding.  When I drive to and home from work I always take a bottle of water and drink it on the drive.  That way I know I am getting at least 34 ounces of water automatically.  This is a healthy choice that feels automatic and like a reward, so I have tried to stack a new habit of health onto that.  As soon as I get home instead of changing into my comfort clothes I already have my workout clothes laid out and I change and go for a walk before I head for the kitchen for food.  As part of my nightly routine I lay out workout clothes for the next day.  When I get back from a walk I am more likely to choose a healthier meal and less likely to reach for the sweet snacks when watching TV because the desire to keep the healthy stream of choices going is greater with all the work I have already put in.  In my morning routine I lay a new book I am excited to read on my bed after I make it so that I am less likely to spend extra time in front of the TV in the evening.  Looking forward to reading before bed makes the reward of reading after TV a better reward instead of doing more of the same.  This process may not work as well for someone else, but everyone’s cues, routines and rewards will be different.

I already had a habit of drinking coffee with too much french vanilla creamer on my way to work each morning and I knew it wasn’t healthy.  Now, I get the same sweet flavor without the caffeine and sugar in a vanilla chai black tea. All of these little changes by themselves do not seem like much but when you start adding them together, over time if I stick with them and build upon them it will add up to some pretty awesome results.  Less calories in my coffee, a walk every night, more time reading instead of being in front of the TV, choosing healthier dinner because I already put in the effort with my walk…this creates a natural stacking of great habits that will spill over into even more areas of life.

I have a love of getting manicures and pedicures, I also love getting my teeth cleaned about every six months (weird I know).  When I have pretty fingers and toes and nice white teeth I am more likely to put the effort into myself in other ways as well.  This domino effect is natural for everyone and if you use it to your advantage it can get you where you want to be.  The time of day, the environment and other good habits already in motion are good keys to stack upon.  When considering a new habit pick the time, place and what habit would be the easiest to stack on (before or after) in order to make it stick.  Time of day and environment we are in often set the tone and give cues for how we respond without us realizing it.  Ask yourself what habits you perform in certain rooms of the house.  Maybe you have a favorite reading chair or maybe your couch is where you are lazy, binge watching TV and playing video games.  Sometimes moving the furniture around and redefining your space can make it easier to create a new, healthier habit.

Also, just like placement of products at a grocery store or creating mental associations in advertising, we can change our environments.  Place bottled water on the top shelf of the fridge for easy access and put sodas or beer in the bottom drawers or out in a fridge in the garage where it is harder to access than the healthy stuff. Place a bowl of fruit on the counter for easy access instead of a plate of cookies.  Every little change will add up to big results over time and small changes are more likely to be lifetime changes than if we attempt to start a whole new diet and throw away everything in the pantry.  Small steps lead to bigger and lasting results so get stacking!

With love, happiness and health,


Know Thyself

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Through my twenties I was just a leaf in the wind of life, my thoughts and desires and curiosity floated from one thing to another.  I finished my first two years of college with an Associates degree, then I got married, moved to another state, had a baby and worked a few different jobs trying to decide where I really fit in and ultimately moved back to my home state, got a divorce at 28 and met a new guy a year later, but that ended by the time I was 34.  Many lessons were learned in my late twenties and early thirties, lessons that were humbling and forced me to take a deeper look at myself.  I wasn’t happy, I was just following a pattern of thought and I am not even sure where it came from.  Social norms that made me believe getting married and having a family should come first, then college and career or any other desires I had should come later, if time allows. All I know is after a failed marriage and a bad break-up, I was tired and unhappy with who I had become.  I was focused on trying to get a life I wasn’t even sure I really wanted and I knew I needed to re-evaluate my situation.

The next 5 years I started a quest for change, I bought my own home, bought a nicer car, started a second job and went back to school.  I completed my bachelor degree (and soon will be starting my masters).  I also focused on what I really wanted out of a relationship and started dating a really great guy who is on the same page with me.  I am now entering into a new decade of my life and taking another look at myself.  I ask myself, based on my past experiences, my current circumstances and my future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing for me to do?  Every decision I make I run through this process, but first I must be clear on what my future hopes and dreams are.  I know within five years I will own my own private therapy practice; so completing my degree and supervised hours are the priority at this point. However,  I understand I should have other goals as well.  So what is really important to me beside my career? My relationships, investing in fixing up my home, paying off debt, taking better care of myself by eating healthier and exercising more, and saving money to start my practice and for retirement and travel as much as I can.

I want to be debt free, get my house completed and paid off, eat healthier and exercise more regularly to lose a little weight, and work for myself all before I turn 50.  Now that I know what my hopes and dreams are I must create a game plan on how to make all of this happen.  I already signed up for my classes for Fall so career goals are in process, I already have an automatic draft for a retirement fund set up, I have been paying my bills on time and extra when I can afford it, I have a gym membership I just need to use it more often and I make time for my relationships throughout the week.  So then I ask myself what areas can I be doing better and I know diet and exercise and paying off my debt are the areas I could be more aggressive.  So how can I address these issues?  I can devote 3 days a week to going to the gym after work and I can create a payoff plan for my debt and maybe cut out some unnecessary expenses.  This process of re-evaluating is something I think every person should do on a regular basis, especially when you start to feel stagnant.

I like to take inventory of how I am doing and how I have changed over time.  As we age we get to know ourselves better and understand what we want, what we like and what we are willing to do or not do.  We should be able to set boundaries better and say no, and prioritize things easier.  If you are not, ask yourself why and what you can do about it.  Know what helps you with stress, know yourself well enough to know when you are getting too stressed, pay attention to things that cause you stress and consider how to make those things less stressful.  We all have our own unique past, present and hopes for the future, so don’t follow the path of someone else, don’t compare yourself, just focus on getting to know yourself and everything will fall into place.

With love, health, happiness and love of thyself



The Five to Thrive

I have recently completed Girl Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis.  If you haven’t read Girl Wash Your Face or Girl Stop Apologizing, you should.  She is a real woman just telling it like it is and baring it all.  She is not only easy to relate to, but raw and funny.  With all of that being said, she also gives some great tips on how to be a better version of yourself along with proving by her success that she has applied them to her own life.  I have always applied these five things in my life, but never considered or seen them grouped together as a sort of mantra for life.  Once I did I was hooked on the concept.  These five rules are great for everyone, especially those of you who are just dipping your toe into the idea of where in the world to start on the path to self improvement.

The five rules include, getting up an hour earlier than you normally do and use that time for yourself, workout at least 30 minutes a day, drink half your body weight in ounces of water each day, give up one food category you know you shouldn’t be eating, and finally, write down 10 things that you are grateful for each day.  I have been practicing this list for a while and steadily adding to it with other ideas that help me keep my life better organized, healthy and productive.

When it comes to getting up an hour earlier, this one was the biggest struggle, but also the holy grail to everything else in my life.  I am able to get so much stuff done before I even sit down at my desk at work by accomplishing this one rule.  I get up and go at 5 a.m. and I use another rule from another great book, The 5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins, to make this happen each day.  I also have an incredible morning routine programmed into my mind and body so I don’t allow myself to think about any other options (like staying in my warm, cozy bed another 30 minutes).  I jump up, wash my face, and put on my workout clothes and grab my gym bag.  I make myself a warm travel mug of lemon water and grab a bottle of water for after my workout.   I always listen an audio book on my drive to the gym.  This is when rule number two comes in to play.

I do a 30 minute workout and then I get changed and ready for my work day.  I always arrive early to work and usually I allow myself one cup of coffee while I finish my water from my workout and I usually have a granola bar and a piece of fruit for breakfast.  I get the office opened up and ready for the day and then I sit at my desk before anyone else arrives and I write, check emails and social media.  Once that is complete I start my work for the day.  When lunch time rolls around I have usually already had about half of the recommended water required to meet half my body weight.  When it comes to lunch, sometimes I bring my lunch to work and sometimes I have lunch with friends and coworkers or just grab something and go sit at the park and read.  The food groups I have removed from my diet include any and all sweets and soda’s.  I do my best to make my meals primarily veggies, fruits and a lean protein, I love fish!

On my way home from work I listen to my audio book or sometimes some music to motivate me if I have a lot I want to get done when I get home.  It is about a 30-45 minute drive for me and I hate not being productive while driving.  Once I arrive home I usually tackle everything I need to do to prepare for the next morning, laundry, making my lunch, getting my gym bag packed, then I eat dinner, shower, skin care and take time to review my calendar for the next day so I have mental game plan.  Then I crawl onto the center of my bed and take the time to be thankful, pray and meditate.  On Friday nights, if I am not making it a date night, I usually tackle some kind of household project.  This week it is my personal walk-in closet.  I usually start a project on a Friday evening while am watching one of my favorite Netflix shows and I try my best to finish the project before noon Saturday.  Lately I have been helping my significant other at his restaurant on Saturday nights and I value my Sundays as a day of rest, relaxation and time with those I love.

Building these routines and habits into my life has brought me a sense of comfort, confidence and happiness.  I love feeling organized, efficient, productive, and healthy and I have found a way to work all of the things that are most important to me into my daily life.  What habits or routines do you value in your life?

With love, health and happiness,


Psychological Warfare

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Watching the news, reading social media feeds, and internet headlines, realizing some of my family and friends have drastically different views on politics, religion and many other values, morals, and beliefs is enough to make a person just want to crawl in a hole and cover it with a rock.  As I navigate my day as the office manager of a busy private practice counseling center while completing my master degree in mental health counseling and working weekends as a bartender at a busy restaurant and doing my best to be a good single mom to a teenage daughter, I can tell you one thing….I have learned how important it is to know where you stand.  I am a researcher, a naturally curious person and pretty open minded when it comes to new thoughts, ideas and theories in the beginning and will allow myself time to learn more before coming to my own conclusion.  In that time I will process the views of others and take it all into consideration as I continue my research.  I like to believe that most people approach new information this way, but I am realistic enough and have seen and heard enough in the practice of counseling to know its not true in all cases.

The fact is we all will see, read and encounter thoughts and ideas that challenge us to our core.  I believe that in every situation there is a choice, the choice is really simple, to look at it from a positive opportunity for growth or to allow it to turn negative.  When I say growth, I don’t mean accept and learn from the actual information in front of you necessarily, because the fact is sometimes we just know the information will never align with our belief systems and research would be an absolute waste of time.  What I mean by an opportunity for growth, even in those obvious situations where you know you will not change your mind, is how you choose to proceed in the situation, how you mentally choose to process and deal with it?  Everything we consume through our senses in daily life effects our body on a deeper level, not just the food and drink, not just the physical activity, but what we read, watch, listen to and write out.  So ask yourself, how good are you being to your mind, body and soul when you take all of that into consideration?

We often hear about parents protecting their children from bad influences of social media, too much screen time, keeping them away from bad influences of other kids and encouraging them to eat right, exercise and don’t do drugs or smoke or drink.  Don’t you find it a bit ironic how many of those things we decide to bring in to our own lives after preaching the opposite to our kids.  The truth is, all of those things do not just stop being bad for you once you become an adult.  We learn we can’t punch Tommy in the face and call him a stupid liar on the playground at school just because he said there is no Santa Claus.  Yet, too many times I see adults calling each other names on social media or the news.  What kind of examples are we setting for our kids?  I understand it is impossible to protect our children from everything and honestly I have no desire to protect my child from it all, how else will she learn?  I want to help guide her and learn what it all means and how to process it in a logical and healthy way.

Shit happens….we lose games, we make bad grades, you get a speeding ticket, or someone you like doesn’t like you back, a friend may talk about you behind your back, families break-up, you didn’t get the part in the play, you may not get accepted into the college of your dreams, you may not have enough money to have, do and see all the things you wish you could in life….you know what this is called?  Life and we are all in it together.  Life is full of choices, maybe you are not responsible for exactly where you are right now, but maybe your parents are, or your grandparents.  The truth is we are all the result of life before us and the big world keeps on turning and producing the next generation.  The point is, there will be a point when you do get to decide for yourself.  How we choose to see the world around us is so important but even more important is how you see yourself in the world around you.  If you had to describe yourself in ten words what words would you choose?  Are they positive and strong or angry and negative.  Do you look at the life dealt to you and fully embrace it and look for the opportunities to be and do better or do you wallow in it and make excuses and blame others?  The mental part of life is the toughest part of life, it will make you or break you.

Negativity is like a cancer, and recent studies show it is actually linked to diseases within the body.  When you are feeling ill you need to consider not only changing what you eat and drink or how often you exercise, but also what you are choosing to read and watch and listen to and how you respond to the world around you.  Create a psychological health habit just like you would habits for diet and exercise.  Don’t allow yourself to consume junk mentally and when it does cross your path, make a choice to process it from a healthier perspective.  It is a proven fact that stress is one of the leading causes of disease in the body and most stress is caused by how we respond to the world around us.  It is time for a little psychological warfare on the negative vibes being put out into the world.  You can give to the needy, work at a soup kitchen, volunteer for great causes, but if you really want to give back to the greater good teach yourself and your children how to accept life as a gift, tackle it with excitement and be thankful every day for the little things in life and most of all learn to respond with love and kindness.  If you are about to respond ask yourself three important questions…. Is it true?  Is it necessary?  Is it kind?

With love, health, happiness and positive mental health,


Coping with Stress


When you start to live a truly full life it can be exciting and rewarding.  I have a full-time job managing a busy counseling office, full time college completing my counseling degree, part-time waitress & bartender at my boyfriends restaurant, a mom of a teenager, a sweet dog and 3 lazy cats, paying the bills & the mortgage, trying to stick to a healthy diet and exercise routine, keeping up my look with hair, nails and fashion.  From self care to balancing work and school and financial responsibilities it can all add up to a lot of stress!

Research has steadily proved that stress is one of the leading causes of health problems. The need to deal with it has become more of a need to just cover-it-up and avoid by incorporating things that may not be any better for us than the actual stress itself.  Some of us eat more because of stress, some smoke, some drink, increase caffeine intake, some take medications (maybe you do all the above)… all to deal with the stresses of life.  When we adopt these bad habits we are actually just making matters worse.  After reading and listening to thousands of books, articles and research journals I have experimented with many different methods.  In this process I have come up with a few that really work for me and are much healthier.

  • Routine

When I first started my personal journey to de-stress my life I found the number one tool was having a routine.  Having consistency in your life makes life much easier and less stressed.  Important routines are morning and bedtime routines.  Having a certain time you go to bed and wake-up each day will not only give you the proper rest you need to fight off sickness, but it will make life feel a lot less chaotic.  I can tell when I stay up too late the night before and it throws off my routine the next day.  I don’t want to get out of bed and then I feel rushed when I finally do motivate at the last minute.  Planning out what you will wear and what you want & need to accomplish the next day is a great way to mentally prepare you before you go to bed.  Have a routine of washing your face, brushing your teeth, adding a nice night cream to your skin and listening to a meditation at the same time every night.  Also, (as most of us already know), reduce your screen time and remove technology from the bedroom as much as possible so you are not tempted to stay up late watching TV or getting on your phone.

Once I get up in the morning I like to exercise first thing and then shower and ease in to my day with a light breakfast, morning news and a cup of coffee while I get ready.  I listen to an audio book on my drive to work and I like to get in my daily water intake as I go through my morning.  I drink water upon waking and throughout my workout, then another bottle after my workout while I am getting ready and then a third bottle on my drive to work.  I usually have half my water intake complete before I even sit at my desk in the mornings.  Having routines at each part of your day can be very beneficial.  I have a routine I go through once I arrive at the office as well, to insure I am as productive and efficient as possible.

  • Preparation

The next valuable tool I have learned and applied in my life is preparation.  Being prepared saves you time, money and frustration.  Have a certain place you always keep your phone, keys, wallet/purse and other important items so you are not always looking for them.  Lay out your workout clothes/shoes and work clothes/shoes for the next day so you don’t have to waste time in the morning looking for them.  If you have a certain travel coffee mug you like make sure it is washed and next to the coffee maker the next morning.  Check your calendar the night before and prepare by making a list of any errands or special events you need to take care of in your day so you are not caught by surprised or miss something important.  People who follow certain diets do meal preparations so they have healthy food choices, this is a great example of how being prepared can keep you on track.  Walking yourself through your day the night before is a great way to do a mental check-list to be sure you have everything together.

  • Organization

Organization goes along with preparation in a lot of ways, but it gets a little deeper.  Anyone who have recently read the book or watched the show Tidying Up knows how helpful and refreshing the look of a truly organized home can be.  A clean and organized home can drastically reduce stress in life.  Be diligent about cleaning out pantries, closets, dressers and cabinets.  Throw away or give to charity what is not serving you anymore.  I have slowly been doing this in my house and it does create a better feeling when I come home each day and go into my kitchen to prepare a meal.  Opening the kitchen pantry and refrigerator to see it clean and neatly organized is very rewarding and encourages me to cook more instead of eating out.  Having my closets and dresser neatly organized with clothes I love motivates me to immediately put away my laundry instead of leaving it in the basket or piled on a chair in my room.  Organizing my bathroom has been the most helpful, having makeup and other beauty products neatly separated in baskets makes getting ready each day a breeze!

  • Mentality

Lets be honest, you can have routines, be prepared and organized and still have mountains of stress.  Your mental capabilities really come in to play when the going gets tough.  Are you a Negative Ned/Nancy or a Positive Paul/Pam?  Your brain and thought processes are like muscles in the body and you need to be honest with what process you choose when shit hits the fan.  Are you instantly thinking the worst and giving up by pulling the covers over your head, or are you a person who tackles the tough stuff head on with grit and determination?  You can train your brain to handle things in life just like you can train your body to run a marathon.  For many people, once they adjust how they perceive the world around them then their entire lives change.  Your mental loop can make or break you in high stress situations.

I am taking an online class and I had logged on to take a quiz.  The quiz allowed me 20 minutes to answer 15 questions and as soon as I hit the button to start the quiz the page just froze.  The quiz would not load on my lap top and I felt the panic rise within me because I had no idea if the time was ticking away on the quiz as I was waiting for the page to load.  It took me 15 of that 20 minutes before I was finally able to get the quiz to load on my computer and I then had only 5 minutes to answer 15 questions!  Needless to say, I did not do well on the quiz and for about 5 minutes I felt frustration, anger, and stress.  However, instead of going into a complete meltdown I simply emailed my professor and explained what happened and went on about my evening.  My younger self would have let it ruin my whole evening but the fact is, shit happens and sometimes there really is no matter of preparation, organization or any special routine that is going to stop the flow of shit.  That is when you have to be able to depend on your mental strength to logically evaluate the situation and decide if you have truly done your best.  There is no sense dwelling on things if you have sincerely tried and done all you can do.  Acknowledge your anger, frustration or any other emotions you are having and then move on.  Never feel bad for being emotional but never remain in that emotional state.  Allow yourself to cry or vent about the stress in your life and then let it go or do something about it, but do not be the person who constantly cries with no action or effort to fix it.

  • Wise Choices

Last, but certainly not least, take responsibility for choices you have made in life.  We all make mistakes, we may rack-up debt and have financial stress, we may not take care of ourselves and end up sick, only you know the truth of why some stress is in your life.  Owning your role in it is a bit of a relief in itself.  Once you stop pointing fingers you can focus on what steps to take to remedy the issue.  One of my favorite quotes comes from Andy Stanley:  In light of my  past experience, my current circumstances, and my future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing for me to do?

I believe the main goal in life is not to just survive but to thrive.  In order to do this we must constantly learn and grow as individuals.  When a person has something to strive for they are usually happier and healthier.  Having hopes and dreams that you choose for yourself can be invigorating.  Do not focus on what others think you should do, not even what may be considered the right or wrong thing for you to do, instead ask what is the wise thing for you to do?  Nobody else knows what you want in life better than you and if you are unsure maybe you should explore those questions.  Making choices for yourself instead of living the hopes, dreams and expectations of others can relieve a lot of stress.  Without a plan you cannot possibly know where to start and that can be stressful.  What do you want out of life?  Are you making the wise choices to make it happen?

In conclusion, stress is just part of life, but it doesn’t have to take over your life.  To keep a healthy balance it requires really knowing yourself.  Your routines, level of preparation, organization and mental strength will be different from everyone else.  Don’t add stress to yourself by trying to take on a morning persons routine if you are a night owl.  Be realistic and create a lifestyle that works for you!

With love, health, happiness & less stress



What Does Healthy Mean to You?

When I hear the word healthy it conjures a certain image in my head of me walking my dog on a nature trail with sunshine, fresh air and backpack full of healthy snacks like apples, granola bars and baby carrots with humus.  I think of yoga on the beach with a great tanned, toned body and my long red hair blowing in the ocean breeze as I clear my mind of all the stresses of life.  The truth is, looks can be deceiving when it comes to health.  There are actually individuals that fall into the healthy weight category and smoke, drink excessively and eat nothing but junk food.  Then there are individuals outside their healthy weight category who don’t smoke or drink, but may struggle with food.  It is absolutely possible that the person first mentioned is much more unhealthy than the individual who just looks outside what we picture in our minds as healthy.

It seems we all have this preconceived notion of what we are supposed to look like and what we should be doing to look a particular way and lead that particular lifestyle.  The truth is, we are all unique and what works for one person may not work for you.  We have morning people and night owls, we have people who eat like crap and never gain a pound and those that just smell a chocolate chip cookie and gain 5 pounds.  The key is to listen to your body and what it is telling you about everything from your water intake, sleep schedule, and energy levels, even what kind of food you crave can tell you something about what is going on in your body.

I have learned that early to bed and early to rise is a motto that actually works for me, but will probably never work for the man in my life.  I like breakfast in the morning, a average size lunch and very little food for dinner and he seems to be exactly the opposite.  I am more motivated to complete work projects, errands, and chores around the house when I first start my day and wind down as the day progresses.  My boyfriend is a guy who likes to sleep in and pick up momentum around noon before phasing out later in the evening. I am in my forties and he is in his fifties so these are patterns that are most likely set in stone for who we are and we should take that into consideration when creating a schedule & routine for our lives.

People who try to force themselves to get up at 5 a.m. to go to the gym when they are night owls, preferring to sleep in and skip breakfast, are probably never going to stick with that early morning routine.  We all read the articles about successful individuals who suggest getting up early and tackling your day with the gym and a healthy breakfast and go to bed early in the evening, but if that is just not who you are then you cannot force it or you will be miserable.  My boyfriend is a perfect example of a man who made his lifestyle work around his needs.  He owns a bar/restaurant that is only open in the evenings.  This gives him the ability to sleep in, go to the gym, and run a few errands as he eases in to his day and by afternoon he is hitting his biggest work load.  When he is just getting warms up around 4 or 5 p.m. I am just ending the biggest work load of my day and heading home.  I have found when I work at the restaurant in the evenings to help my boyfriend with his business I am exhausted when I get home and usually head straight to bed when he is capable of watching at least an hour of TV.

Even on the weekends, when I am not at the office, I find myself getting up early in the morning instead of sleeping in.  In winter or when it is dark and rainy outside I tend to find myself sleeping in and wanting to hibernate a bit more, but usually I am up and going no later than 7 a.m. on weekends and no later than 6 a.m. throughout the week. My boyfriend can easily sleep in to 10 a.m., which I am somewhat envious of.  The truth is, I like my routine, I feel more efficient and less like I am wasting my day when I get up early and do all kinds of things before noon when my boyfriend hasn’t even got going yet.  I have heard him say more than once that he feels like he has wasted a day, especially when we first started dating and he would see me getting up early.  In the passed 3-4 years he has started getting up earlier and going to bed earlier, not sure if that is my influence, his age, or the fact that he has started going to the gym more regularly, probably a combination of all.

At the end of the day just ask yourself if you feel rested, nourished, accomplished, productive; are you fitting everything in to your routine easily or do you feel tired and like you are forcing yourself through life?  The goal is to find your own path and enjoy each day to the fullest.  If getting up early to read or watch the news while sipping coffee is important to you then make it happen.  Our personal routines are important to having a healthy and fulfilling life and it doesn’t have to be the same routines that everyone else is doing.  We are all unique and what makes you feel healthy and happy may not be the same for your significant other or anyone else.  We don’t have to look a certain way or follow a certain method to be healthy or happy.  Just do you!

With Wishes of Health & Happiness,


Changing Your Mind

I joined the Beachbody program and my new coach, April, has been very supportive.  I started a very beginner level workout yesterday and did a little more advanced today.  Funny how the most basic moves can make you sore the next day.  I am definitely not using all my muscle groups as often as I should in my day to day life.  I am sure I will be even more sore tomorrow.

I find myself looking for ways to stay motivated and determined in this process.  I don’t want to make excuses and skip a day of exercise or allow myself to eat something I know I shouldn’t.  I am realistic and know this will inevitably happen at some point in this process and probably more than once.  So I have started research, because my psychology brain knows this is a mental obstacle.  Our minds and bodies revert back to what it knows when times get tough.  Well, my body knows that eating tacos and chips with cheese dip with an ice cold beer is what I normally do when times get hard.  It also knows that curling up with a good book or watching a movie is more my jam after work than getting in front of the TV for a workout.  So how do we change our mind and condition ourselves to revert to new norm?  How do we create better habits?

I believe this is where phrases like, practice makes perfect, or stated facts like, it takes 21 days to create a habit, come in to play.  My research has brought me back to a book that I bought on audio a few years ago and never started.  I recently completed Girl, Wash Your Face and loved listening to it on my way to work each morning.  So now I am going to start The Power of Habit:  Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg.  Maybe in this book I can gain some new knowledge that I can apply to my current attempt to get healthier.  I am always looking to learn new things to apply to my life, and I need all the help I can get when it comes to creating healthier eating habits and exercising more regularly.


How have you stopped bad habits and created more healthy habits in your life?

With love, happiness and healthy habits,