5 Ways to Stay Strong Mentally as a Mom

As a new mom or really anyone leading a busy life, it can be easy to get overwhelmed by one’s present circumstances. Maybe you feel stuck or like things will never change or improve.

However, a goal I have for this year is to overcome my mental outlook and instead of being lead by my feelings into despair and sadness I’m working on telling myself how to feel.

My daughter is a great source of joy and I find myself choosing to be happy for her instead of moping around feeling sad or discouraged. She deserves to be happy and I want her to feel secure and loved despite how I’m feeling on the inside.

Continue reading “5 Ways to Stay Strong Mentally as a Mom”

Sex, Jesus and Conversations the Church Forgot Book Review

What is one topic you wish the church talked more openly about?

Perhaps it’s sex?

In Sex Jesus and the Conversations the Church Forgot Mo Isom goes beyond the lies and misinformation we've learned about sex.

In her new book Sex Jesus and Conversations the Church Forgot Forgot Mo Isom goes beyond the standard chat of don’t do this until you’re married or don’t look at porn or don’t dress a certain way.

Why can’t we have an open, judgment-free conversation on sex?

Let’s celebrate the act God created for our enjoyment

And stop shaming people into ‘purity’

Instead let’s look at sex with a view of the gospel and tell people that no matter what your past, or what you’ve done or has been done to you that you have inherent worth.

That you were created by a King who loves you and wants to give you an abundant Life.

Continue reading “Sex, Jesus and Conversations the Church Forgot Book Review”

Loving My ADD Husband

My husband was diagnosed with ADD as a child.

As a result, he found it difficult to focus in a traditional school setting. The decision was made to homeschool him. He thrived being able to complete his schoolwork in the morning and expound his boundless energy playing the rest of the day.

His ADD wasn’t a bad thing it just required a few adjustments and some understanding of how his environment can help him thrive or struggle.

Although with age and maturity he has outgrown a lot of his ADD tendencies at times I can see evidence of it.

For example, he doesn’t like to sit still for long periods of time. Often he will pace the room while we’re having a serious conversation or start tapping rhythms with his fingers (he’s a drummer) when bored.

At other times he can be highly sensitive both emotionally and physically. I have to be aware of how I share something that’s bothering me in order to not be overbearing or insensitive to his feelings. On the physical side, he doesn’t always like to be touched while my love language is physical touch. He is also sensitive to the feel of certain fabrics and prefers very soft fabrics over anything rough, satiny or overly smooth.

Change for him provokes a lot of anxiety. Starting a new job, moving, me being 39 weeks pregnant are all things he is constantly concerned about.

He goes through phases of being very dedicated to certain hobbies or activities. Not to an extreme or unhealthy level but with a strong desire to be successful. Usually, this habit manifests through various types of games, sports or his cars.

His dedication also extends to me, family and friends. He makes connecting with others a priority. Whether it’s a text throughout the day or driving long distances, relationships are important to him.

Finally, he has incredible attention to detail and is skilled at spatial orientation. He can at times be a perfectionist, while I could care less if something is less than perfect. He is also a confident AZ licensed driver.

I may not understand all the aspects of his ADD but I can appreciate all the ways it makes him a great husband.

For starters, I’m happy being a homebody but he gets bored if we never go out. He encourages me to be more social and introduces me to active things we can do together like working out, going for walks or seeing a sporting event.

I also appreciate his go-go-go approach to life because it allows him to be a tireless provider when he has to work 12-hour shifts.

How He Helps me be a Better Person

Secondly, he has taught me to be a better communicator. At times I can be too brash or dramatic in expressing myself. Instead, I’m learning to state the facts, not get caught up in emotion and to have more empathy when needed.

Furthermore, although I don’t like seeing him worry or feel anxious about things I appreciate his deep care and concern for my wellbeing and our growing family. I know I can count on him to take care of us. Even if for him, that means starting a new, more challenging job while his wife is very pregnant and having to relocate soon after the baby comes.

Finally, when my husband commits to a task he’s all in and he will do his very best to achieve a good outcome. For example, I have never questioned his dedication or commitment to me. Every day he affirms his love for me. He’s the one who makes sure we resolve conflicts. He stresses the importance of our relationship with Christ over our relationship with each other. He prays for us, for me and for our life together. He encourages me in my pursuits. He stands up for me in front of others. He’s certainly not perfect but I know his commitment to our marriage does not waver.

Perhaps at one time, his ADD was seen as an obstacle to succeeding academically or otherwise. I don’t see his ADD as a flaw or hurdle to overcome. Instead, I see it as a gift that has made him into the most amazing, caring, sensitive, driven and talented husband and soon to be father.

I hope that our baby girl can learn these same incredible traits from her daddy.


My husband was diagnosed with ADD as a child. I don't see his ADD as a flaw or hurdle to overcome. Instead, I see it as a gift that has made him into the most amazing, caring, sensitive, driven and talented husband and soon to be father.

I’m Scared to Have the Sex Talk with my Daughter One Day

Can anyone else relate to feeling nervous about the sex talk? With the Whole Story, there is no need to fear. 

I know I’m a long way off from having to answer any awkward questions about sex just yet. Still, the thought of navigating this tricky subject makes me nervous!

As I’ve gone through pregnancy and the closer I get to having my baby the reality of parenting sets in more each day: I am actually going to have to teach this child about life. Right now I’m super focused on preparing to keep her alive. However, I know the infant stage is short and beyond that, I’ll have to learn other practical parenting skills. Like knowing how to teach her about her body and answering the tough questions like “where do babies come from?” and “what’s a period?”.

As an avid learner and a lover of research, I’m always on the lookout for resources from more experienced parents and especially moms on the best approach to teach Baby K about subjects that I’m not sure how to best approach. For me, the sex talk, puberty and growing up are all subjects that seem just a little bit more intimidating than helping with a math problem or teaching manners.

Puberty Was the Worst

To be honest as a child puberty was the worst part of growing up. I couldn’t even say the word “bra” without cringing. Being the oldest girl in my family I had to go through all those awkward changes first. While my younger sister who had no reserve would bluntly ask me the most awkward and personal questions about what I was going through. I found the whole process embarrassing, unpleasant and not something I openly wanted to talk about (even with my mom).

Although I had a few conversations with my mom about puberty, I was also given a book on the changes my body would go through and of course I learned a few things at school. Other than that I kind of just figured things out on my own. I know I wasn’t the only one!

Often times our own parents didn’t receive adequate information, so how are they supposed to know what to tell us?

I’m sure you can relate to not loving puberty and dreading having the “talk” with your own children. It’s not a subject that everyone feels super comfortable broaching.

The Whole Story Can Help

Thankfully things can be different! Plus they don’t have to be awkward either. What if you could approach talking about sex, puberty and growing up with your daughter in a way that is fun and low stress?

Perhaps you’ve heard of popular marriage blogger and speaker Sheila Wray Gregoire from to Love, Honour and Vacuum? I’m excited to share that she has launched a course led by her two daughters (who are the same age as me and my sister) all about puberty, sex and growing up. It’s called the Whole Story: Not-so-scary talks about Sex, Puberty, and Growing Up and it’s an online video course for moms and daughters to learn about puberty, sex and growing up. As followup moms can use the discussion questions to keep the conversation going.

thewholestory300x300-1.png

My favourite part of this course is that it doesn’t replace the mom’s role. Instead, it starts the conversation you may be fearing in a way that is fun, relatable and safe! Plus each video is only 3-5 minutes long.

Let’s face it our kids are going to hear stuff about sex from their friends, school, and the media. Shouldn’t we be proactive and make sure their primary source of information is us as parents? I know that if Baby K ever has any questions about sex or her body I would want her to come to me first. I don’t want her to receive confusing or misinformed information. Instead, I want her to feel comfortable about her body and confident in bringing me her questions.

I may not know where to start in talking about puberty with my daughter when the time comes, but I’m glad to have The Whole Story as a starting point. I wish I’d had something similar available when I was growing up!

The Whole Story: Sex Talk Resource
I also love that the course includes two versions: one for 10-12-year-olds and one for 13-15-year-olds. These age groups have different needs. Younger girls need factual, practical information whereas teens need to discuss and understand the more emotionally driven and nuanced topics like porn, masturbation, and dating.

The younger version covers:

    • her period
  • body changes
  • sex and how babies are made
  • boys and peer pressure
  • taking care of her body

The older version covers:

    • troubleshooting issues with her period
  • relationships with guys
  • how to handle social issues like online bullying, peer pressure, friends
  • honouring God while living in a highly sexualized world
  • styling yourself in a way that sends a positive message

If you’re ready to start the conversation about puberty, sex and growing up with your daughter in a way that is fun, low stress and way less awkward than when we had the talk check out the Whole Story!

Do you have any awkward experiences of going through puberty? 

What do you wish would have gone differently for you when learning about puberty, sex and growing up?


*affiliate link used

Why You Should Actually Say Yes More Often

It may seem counterintuitive but I really think that instead of saying “No” more we need to start saying “Yes”.

Why You Should Actually Say Yes More Often

Why Should I Say “Yes” More Often?

First off life is short. No one knows exactly how many days are left of their life. Therefore we should use our limited time to the best of our ability.

Additionally, we shouldn’t be selfish in how we designate our time. I love this quotation my mom shared with me this past week from Beth Moore: “God what will you have me do today?”. Instead of getting caught up with the stress of life and letting it dictate our day what if we started our day asking what God would have for us? A simple mindset change can make a huge difference in how our circumstances are perceived. Plus when we intentionally look for ways in how God can use us we are less likely to feel like our life lacks purpose. This also leads to more fulfillment and a less self-centred approach to life.

Here are a few simple ways God can use you today:
  • send an encouraging text to a friend
  • bring a coffee to a friend or coworker
  • donate to a cause
  • smile to the people who serve you and be genuinely kind to them
  • give a generous tip
  • be a courteous driver
  • write down what you are grateful for and why
  • pay for the person behind you in the drive-thru
Relationships Matter

Secondly, relationships are the single most important aspect of life. Our number one relationship is with God as He teaches us how to love, forgive and treat others. He teaches us all people are created equal, to love our enemies (how easy is it to just love those that are kind to us?) and to forgive as we have been forgiven. He doesn’t demand us to follow a strict set of rules instead He gently calls us to follow Him as he teaches us how to live an abundant life.

In addition to our relationship with our creator is our relationship with His created-the people around us. Our family foremost, our friends, our church, our communities. Instead of pursuing things and success more than we pursue others what if we made a conscious effort to connect with just one person a week. Personally, I am so bad about this! I haven’t made it a habit to sit down once a week and just text or message someone important to me. I am aware of this and working to reach out to others more often. One benefit of connecting is feeling more fulfilled and it’s important for my mental health.

Plus I want to share my life with others, I want to build a strong community of people who will encourage me and keep me accountable.

What Are We Saying “Yes” To?

Our Marriages + Families

I firmly believe that a strong marriage is the basis of a strong family. Furthermore strong families lead to better societies. When children know their parents love each other they feel safe and secure. Now, this doesn’t guarantee a perfect family but it does avoid a lot of potential problems.

Furthermore, parents are the primary model for their children’s behaviour. I know this may seem intuitive but I see parents all the time who yell at their child for acting out when the parent is almost acting worse than the child. Children will mimic the behaviour they see demonstrated in the home. As a mom to be this really weighs heavy on me as I think about the habits and behaviours I want to work on. Such as complaining less. I find it so easy to see the negative in situations and I don’t want Baby K to be the same. I’m almost at the point where I’m going to write down “complain less” next to “take vitamin” on my refrigerator whiteboard so I don’t forget.

In order to have a strong marriage and family, we have to be willing to say “Yes” to our families desire for relationship.

Just the other day my husband had an appointment in Hamilton and after he was going to a park to play Pokemon Go. He asked me to join him on his trip so that we could spend time together after the appointment. Although Pokemon is not my most favourite activity I said yes. I reasoned that we only have so much time together so why would I say no to spending time with him. However, I also said yes because I wasn’t committed to any other activities for that day.  We have limited time together during the week so I wanted to take advantage of the extra free time we could enjoy together. I am not advocating to be a doormat and always say yes to your husband. I firmly believe in “Courtney time” and “Mike time”, it wouldn’t be healthy if we spent every waking moment together. Yet under the circumstances, it was advantageous for me to say “Yes”. I also know my husband appreciates that I’m willing to join him in an activity he enjoys.

The Little Things

Secondly, it’s important to say yes to the little things. Perhaps your child wants to play a game with you or your sister wants to have a movie night together and buy snacks. The moments I most regret saying no to are others invitations to spend time together. I may feel tired or the activity sounds boring but once I’m doing the activity it often turns out to be more enjoyable than I thought. Don’t be afraid to do things with others that seem silly or a waste of time, because at the end of the day what matters is the precious quality time you were able to spend together.

What Are We Saying “No” To?

Saying yes to a relationship with others means we have to say no to other less important things.

Technology

First off we need to say no to technology. The emails, tweets and Instagram captions can wait. I know a lot of families schedule a period of time where technology is not used.

Activities

Secondly, say “No” to too many activities. Another great tip I’ve heard is for families is to let each child participate in one sport or activity a season. This avoids overwhelming children with too many scheduled items and while allowing for spontaneous family fun. Additionally, parents should be aware of how much time they are committing to volunteering. Even if it’s a ministry activity, the families relational needs should always come first.

Say “Yes” to Quality Time and “No” to Wasted Time

Overall what I’m trying to say is that our time is precious. We don’t know how much time we have with those we love. Although it can be easy to not be intentional with our time it is imperative we make time for relationships.

My challenge to you is to say “Yes” to one thing somebody asks you to do with them this week.

Why You Should Say YES

What are some other things you think we should say “no” to?

How do you intentionally make time for relationships with others?

4 Years Later: My University Experience

About a week ago I wrote my very last exam of university (#boomdone!). As thrilling as this accomplishment was I don’t feel done with school or that I’ve actually finished my undergrad.  Not until I have my diploma in hand will it seem real. Finishing university seems like such a surreal experience because in high school I had doubts about getting accepted, I failed three courses in undergrad and since I took a gap year most of my friends have already graduated. In some ways, it felt as if this day would never come. I also didn’t think I would be 7 months pregnant as I wrote my last exams.

The experience of university has certainly been a journey filled with many ups and downs and letting go of some dreams. Although it was at times difficult I never found the workload or expectations to be impossible, stressful yes, but still within my means of accomplishment. Overall, I am grateful for the privilege to have learned about psychology, child development, diversity, food science, microbiology, ethics, writing, nutrition, work-life balance, various theories related to the family and society and being able to explore topics of interest like cohabitation, parenting, and the non-profit sector.

Before University + Choosing My Major

Back in high school, I loved my food and nutrition class (it was the one class I ever achieved over a 90 in). I became determined to turn this passion into a career. After researching my options the profession of a Registered Dietician best fit my goals. I would work in healthcare and have the authority to dispense sound evidence-based nutrition advice to patients and clients. Although this program required chemistry which I despised, I took grade 11 chemistry in summer school in order to take grade 12 chemistry with my peers. I barely passed grade 12 chemistry and advanced functions both needed for my program. However, I got accepted into my school of choice Brescia University College (Western University) for a BSc in Nutrition and Dietetics. At the time I was thrilled because step one of my dream to work in the field of nutrition was becoming a reality.

How Am I Going to Pay for University?

Being an avid Dave Ramsey listener at the time I knew taking out a student loan would not help my future (cash is king). Even though that was the “normal” thing to do if one was going to university straight out of high school. Instead, I deferred my acceptance and continued working at my part-time job while searching and praying for a full-time position or another part-time job. In September of that year, the owner of the store I was working at asked if I would like to work full-time days (7-3) at another store. I gratefully accepted the position and knew that God was providing a way for me to save for university even if I was only making minimum wage. I didn’t love the job and it was not easy getting up early every day but in the end, I saved enough from working (almost a year part-time and just under a year full time) to pay for two years of tuition. Throughout university, I was always one year ahead on my tuition which took a huge burden off of my shoulders. I also applied for grants and received a bursary to help cover other costs.

I should note my parents helped cover my living expenses which were very affordable.  I rented a room with a family friend over living in residence and kept to a very modest grocery budget. I also bussed (the bus pass was included in tuition) for my first year and some of my second and third years.

Freedom + Moving Away From Home

Following my year of working and living at home, I was very ready to move out on my own. Although my school was only an hour and a half away. I was close enough to take the Greyhound home on Fridays or for my parents to come down on a weekend. I relished living on my own, I gained so much independence figuring out the bus schedules, finding my classes, making new friends, going to a new church (with a huge young adults group) and signing up for clubs and volunteering weekly. I was so busy and happy I didn’t really miss home. I think waiting an extra year to start school helped ensure I was ready for such a big transition.

However, while I was away at school everything with my family was not alright. Being away from the daily interactions of home life shielded me from a lot of emotional pain, although I still felt the weight of it. At the time I didn’t really talk much about what my family was going through because I am a very private person and avoid opening up. I did, however, receive support from a few close friends and my faith certainly helped me stay steady when I didn’t understand everything that was happening. As much as starting university was a very happy time, I also carried around a lot of sadness. It’s important to remember that you never know what someone may be going through.

Failed Courses + Summer Jobs

As the year went on things with my family improved. Academically though things were not perfect. I failed chemistry in my second semester, which was a required course for my program. I shrugged it off and decided to retake it the next year. I should have done summer school but I needed to work to keep covering tuition.

I was very fortunate to receive a summer student position at an automotive factory working on the assembly line installing car parts on the engines. Again before receiving this position, I had no idea where I was going to work for the summer. I had applied to many different summer jobs since December. I didn’t get a call until the end of May to do an assessment (which I wanted to quit because it was so physically hard), followed by an interview with an HR rep and a manager from the floor. I was able to apply my experience working in quick service to explain how I would be suitable to work in a fast paced factory environment.

Again right at the last minute when I was getting desperate God opened a door for me. Although this job was like nothing I had ever done (I put parts on cars and used drills and guns that torqued really aggressively and stood on my feet for 10 hours and I worked with mostly men) I gained so much confidence. I learned I could work long hours, on swing shift, with sore feet and hands, getting up at 4:45 am driving 45 minutes into work, succeed in technical jobs and not give up even when tired or very frustrated. I figured if I could work this hard consistently I could work a lot harder on my studies and not give up when I got tired or discouraged.

Failing Again + Switching Majors

As I went into the second year I understood how to study better (you have to do the readings and take notes aside from going to lectures) and I was more committed to my work. It also helped that I lived semi alone and had a quiet bedroom to do all my work in (whereas when I got married and even when I was dating my husband I had a lot more distractions!).

Unfortunately, I failed chemistry again. This was a turning point for me and I decided that I had to pursue my strengths which were more towards writing, researching and studying rather than formulas and labs. I met with an academic advisor and slightly modified my program from a BSc to a BA. I was a little disappointed in myself for not being able to complete my dream of becoming an RD but at the same time, I was glad I tried. Instead, I pursued my second choice of becoming a Professional Home Economist. Check out the video below for a quick summary of who PHEc’s are.

What’s the Difference between a Registered Dietician and a Professional Home Economist?

A PHEc works more with consumers on educating about healthy eating practices, food skills, finances, even fashion and sewing (basically anything family studies related). Whereas a dietician works in public health or a clinical setting and advises clients on their specific nutritional needs.

Once I switched programs and started taking more family studies courses I was a lot happier as I felt I could succeed in this program. My grades also improved.

Take a Wide Variety of Electives

In my third and fourth years, I had to make up some classes I missed due to switching my degree. An introductory writing course was one and although it sounds mundane I had a great professor and learned some great tips to improve my skills.

I also took the philosophy of food to meet my breadth requirements. This was a great elective because there was no exam. Our major project was to work in groups with a community partner and then present on experience. I had the pleasure of volunteering with Growing Chefs! Ontario doing some administrative work and assisting with their children’s cooking classes. Not only did I gain great experience but I matched my interests with getting credit.

If you have the opportunity to take electives research your options! There are so many great classes and interesting things to learn from people who are experts in their field.

My Final Year + Practicum + Mentoring

By far my favourite class I took was my practicum. I didn’t find out about the class till during the summer and you had to apply to it due to limited spots but I was able to get in.

I learned so much about entering the workforce, how to have a good relationship with your supervisor, how to ask for feedback, why you should reflect on your experience and how to improve plus what the real career working world is like.

My practicum took place at London Community Resource Center. Over the course of my practicum, I assisted in creating feedback surveys for participants of their community garden program, I helped plan programming for the upcoming season and wrote some posts for their website on home preservation, unique ways to incorporate beans into one’s diet and tips for a butterfly and bee friendly garden.

I also toured of an Early Years Center, attended a Think Tank (on strategies to ensure kids eat more vegetables and fruit) hosted by the city and the Urban Agriculture Conference. The best part of the experience was being exposed to initiatives and organizations that support the family and healthy eating.

Concurrently, I took part in a mentoring program hosted by my the Student Life Center. I  was matched with a mentor who worked at McCormick. We met once a month to complete our mentoring assignments and work through goals I had set. Overall, I enjoyed being able to ask her my many questions related to finding a career, networking and gaining experience.

In addition to meeting my mentor, I met collectively with the other mentees in the program once a month to learn about career topics including networking, how to be productive, how to create a resume and cover letter, interviewing, and preparing an elevator pitch among other topics.

A new and somewhat uncomfortable experience I completed during my mentoring program was to conduct an informational interview. I was recommended to a PHEc at McCormick who worked in the test kitchen (#dreamjob). She was also a recent grad and stressed the importance of attending the Home Economics conference to network with others in our field. I’m so glad I completed the mentorship program because it forced me to do things outside of my comfort zone.

Overall I was able to finish my final year with a much greater grasp on what I wanted to do after school but more importantly how to achieve those goals. As much as academics matter if one doesn’t know the practical steps to make their degree useful, transitioning into the workforce can be daunting. I would highly encourage anyone going into their final years to make career preparation a priority.

Final Thoughts + Never Stop Learning

In summary,  I am so grateful I had the opportunity and privilege to attend university. Although at times I considered if I should have gone to culinary school instead or taken accounting in college, I’m glad I was able to receive the education I did. As a result, I have greatly improved in my writing, I understand the importance of looking at information critically and searching for evidence-based claims, I have a greater depth of knowledge on the family and society. This has enabled me to be more empathetic and given me a desire to help others with what I have learned.

I am no expert, I only have a BA and this is just the beginning. I will always have more to learn whether that’s through getting my Masters or in a career or just life experience.

Although my next steps include being a mom, I’m looking forward to networking with others in my field over the coming year and keeping active on this blog <3

The experience of university has certainly been a journey filled with many ups and downs and letting go of some dreams. Although it was at times difficult I never found the workload to be impossible, stressful yes, but still doable.


Are you going to Universtiy this fall? If you are and have any questions feel free to leave me a comment below!

5 Way’s to Prioritize Self Care

The first time I heard about self-care was from my practicum professor who also happens to be a therapist (class felt like a therapy session because we just talked about our practicums and ate food, it was literally the best.). Our professor knowing that we all lead stressful and busy lives especially as students on the cusp of graduation or grad school really encouraged us to make self-care a priority. She shared how taking a hot yoga class when she’s really stressed or spending time with horses helped her maintain a balanced life.

During this time I was under a lot of stress from school, life and being pregnant (but also not knowing it, I was very emotional and overwhelmed). I really needed to hear this message of taking care of myself beyond my physical needs and my daily work of school and home.

 

5 Tips to Prioritize Self Care

In short, self-care consists of taking time for yourself to recharge and take a break from the pressures of life. It may seem selfish to want to make ‘me time’ a priority but as my professor explained to us it will enable you to be a better person for yourself and to those around you.

Self-care is especially important for women as we take on so many roles and are relied upon by multiple people. In fact, when I’m not taking care of my well-being I tend to suffer-emotionally, physically and relationally as I did during the beginning of my last semester.

However, when I do make time to do things that fill me up I feel energized, loved, taken care of and more motivated and inspired to accomplish the more mundane tasks in my life. Plus I’m a happier person because I’m not relying on those around me to satisfy that need.

Self-care doesn’t have to expensive or take a lot of time. The main thing it involves is intentionality or else it’s just going to fall to the side. Below I have 5 tips to get you started on ideas for self-care and how to make it fit with your life.

Find Out What Recharges You

First, without taking time or your schedule into account brainstorm a list of activities that you find enjoyable.  Think about hobbies you gave up in the past or interests you never got around to trying. Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn ceramics, or you really enjoy reading, perhaps it’s the yoga class you never signed up for, or gardening, writing, browsing the bookstore, seeing friends, even getting your hair done. Let your mind wander and write down any ideas that pop up.

Personally, I feel recharged after I spend quality time with a friend or family member I haven’t seen in awhile, treating myself to a Starbucks date, going on a walk, listening to a podcast, taking a bath, baking, reading a good book or even going for a run.

Schedule Self-Care

Next, take a look at your schedule and determine where you have the margin to fit in self-care. Is it after work on Tuesdays, Sunday afternoons, before everyone wakes up, during nap time or perhaps you can book a day off work once a quarter to do something extra special.

As I said above if self-care is not a priority it will never get accomplished. Just like scheduling a doctors appointment write down or make a mental note of when you can have time just for you. It might take some juggling but remember when you take care of yourself everyone around you benefits.

Take it One Week at a Time

Perhaps in your current season of life, you can’t commit to a weekly class or taking time off work. That’s okay! Maybe all you can manage is a weekly bath and reading your book for 15 minutes. The important part is to make sure self-care is part of your weekly routine.

Evaluate Your Self-Care Routine

In addition to making time for self-care and taking it season by season, take the time to evaluate how your self-care routine is working. Are you feeling more fulfilled in your daily life? Do you have more or less time in the coming months for self-care? Is there something you would like to change or a new activity you’d like to try?

Life is constantly changing, it’s important to make sure your routines are being adapted to fit your lifestyle or else they become another thing that can bring you down and make you less productive.

Find Creative Ways to Incorporate Self-Care

In addition to scheduling time for just myself which I also encourage my husband to do, I like to include self-care while I’m doing mundane tasks. For example, while I’m doing the dishes or driving I’ll listen to a podcast. Sometimes it’s a lighthearted and entertaining one like the Popcast or a more at times serious and inspiring one like the Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey. Or maybe you don’t have time to read so an audiobook is a better choice. In fact, most libraries offer free downloads of audiobooks. I love that I’m able to be productive while still taking time for myself

I’m not a mom yet but I do know that when Baby K gets here I’m going to make it a priority to make sure we get out of the house. Whether we walk to get coffee or to the library, I know we’ll both benefit from the activity.

Plus when you model that taking care of your mental health is important for your children they will take notice. Even if they are young, having quiet time once a day can demonstrate that having alone time is important and that mom needs time for herself in order to be the best mom she can be.

Spend Quiet Time with God

Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share the number one thing in my life that keeps me steady, hopeful and able to face each day. That is my relationship with God. Spirituality is something that oft gets looked over. Yet it’s so related to our mental health and well being it cannot be ignored.

For me spending time with God is simple. I first spend time in prayer thanking God for all the blessings in my life no matter how big or small they are, I talk to God about my worries, I confess sins in my life, I pray for my husband and our marriage, my family, safety, health, friends, just anything that’s going on in my life.Remember it’s okay to share anything with God or ask for help in areas where you’re struggling. The psalms are a great example that it’s okay to tell God our honest feelings.

Following a time of prayer which I may or may not also write down, I use a tool called She Reads Truth. This website has reading plans that also provide a devotional for each day. Currently, I’ve been reading through Romans and before that, I went through the Song of Solomon. This tool has been very effective in helping me stick to doing devotions because it lays out what to read. First,  I’ll read the assigned passages, usually out loud so Baby K can hear too and then reread the passage and take notes on what the author is saying and how I can apply it to my life. Even if I never come back to these notes, writing it down helps solidify what I’m learning.

Finally, I’ll read the short devotional accompanying the readings. Usually, it contains a helpful commentary on the big picture and other themes I haven’t considered. Perhaps if you don’t know where to start in having a devotional this website would be a great resource. Just try to find what works best for you and stick with it.

Overall scheduling time for yourself is not selfish, it means that you care about your mental health and want to be the best you. Don’t feel guilty if you need a night off once a week or have to make room in the budget. In the long term, it is so worth it not only for yourself but for your family and everyone around you.

In Summary:

  • Find out what recharges you
  • Schedule self-care
  • Take it one week at a time
  • Evaluate your self-care routine periodically
  • Incorporate self-care in creative ways
  • Spend quiet time with God

Finally, here’s a great mantra to remember “Create your own sunshine”

Find things that bring you joy and make them a habit. 

5 Ways to Prioritize Self Care

10 Ways to Create Your Own Sunshine Today

buy fresh flowers

get a manicure

print off pictures

go for a walk

write a gratitude list

take a bath

schedule a coffee date with a friend

read a book

treat yourself to a special drink

colour

For more great tips on incorporating self-care be sure to check out this post by Lisa from Lisa Designs Life, she has a lot of tips to make self-care part of a busy life.


What are some of your best tips for self-care?

What activities help you feel recharged?

I’d love to hear!

 

Favourite’s Friday >>> Java with Juli

Happy FriYay!

Today’s favourite is a podcast and ministry I have followed since it’s inception. One of the founders Dr. Juli Slattery used to host the Focus on the Family Daily Broadcast before God called her to start the ministry of Authentic Intimacy. Java with Juli is a part of Authentic Intimacy. This ministry is all about sexMore specifically sexual discipleship. The ladies behind Authentic Intimacy apply God’s truth to all areas of sexuality-whether you’re married, single, divorced, widowed, dating or engaged they cover all topics. I love the honesty of these women but more importantly how they don’t compromise on God’s word. Everything that their ministry stands for is filtered through the truth of the Bible.

Perhaps you may have heard of the book 50 Shades of Grey or seen the movie? Dr. Juli and her friend Dannah Gresh wrote a book called Pulling Back the Shades in response to the 50 Shades series and the church’s lack of guidance on the topic. If you’re curious about whether you can be sexual and spiritual definitely give this book a read!

shade.png

Now onto the podcast! This is one of my all-time favourite podcasts, I even got Michael to listen to an episode with me and he commented how he enjoyed the honesty and straightforwardness of the hosts. Each Monday a Javi with Juli episode is released online. A topic is tackled either about sex or other tricky topics the church may not be discussing openly. What I enjoy about each episode are the tough questions that are tackled such as: what role do psychology and therapists have within the church (Episode 146)? For example aren’t pastors supposed to counsel their flock? Being a clinical psychologist and a Christian Dr. Juli was able to offer her opinion on the topic while a pastor also weighed in. The hosts don’t always agree 100% on the issues they discuss, in the end, the listener must decide for themselves where the answer lies. I enjoy being challenged in my beliefs and encouraged to seek God’s word for answers to tough questions.

A few other notable episodes are:

#110 How to find your identity in Jesus

#116 How to love your husband with your whole heart

#117 How your sex life is connected to your spiritual life

#124 Why you need to address pornography in your marriage and home

#132 Honest answers to your questions about sex

Grab your coffee and tune in to Java with Juli! You will not regret it  <3


 

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5 Ways to make Christmas more Meaningful

Christmas is a wonderful time of year but sometimes the commercialization of the Holiday can overwhelm the actual celebration. A few years ago I got tired of all the presents, pressure and performance associated with Christmas. I even tried convincing my family take a cruise instead of spending another year being surrounded by artificial evergreens and not enough presents. We ended up staying around for the holidays and I’m really glad we did because I met my husband, but more importantly, I reframed how I viewed the Christmas season.

I have a biblical worldview, I look at the world through what God has written in His word to us. This belief teaches that we are not just body and mind but we also possess a spirit. In order for Christmas to have a deeper meaning for me, I needed to connect it with my spirituality. That is why I chose to do a set of advent readings a few years ago. Going through this study prepared my heart to anticipate Christmas, not for the superficial but the saviour. This kickstarted a desire to find deeper meaning in this holiday. Beyond Advent, I attended several Christmas concerts where as I mentioned I met Michael.

xmas-cookies

1. Observe Advent

I used the John Piper advent study which you can find here to download

2. Attend a Church Event

  • Bethlehem Walk
  • Christmas Cantata
  • Play
  • Carol sing
  • Christmas Eve service

3. Reflect on why the season in meaningful for you

4. Establish a new tradition

  • Make a new type of Christmas cookie
  • Visit a Christmas Market
  • Attend a lighting ceremony in your community
  • Drive around with a special Christmas beverage (I’m looking at you Starbucks (; ) and look at Christmas lights

5. Give Back

  • Donate your time or money to serving others
  • Donate toys or coats to organizations collecting them
  • Invite singles, new families or those less fortunate over for dinner

Favourites Friday>> Surviving Sarah Podcast

Happy FriYay!

Today’s favourite is a podcast I have been binge listening to on the drive to school and back. I absolutely cannot get enough of this podcast. I come away feeling inspired, motivated and excited each time I hear an interview with a different woman about what she is doing or has been through.

ss

Surviving Sarah is hosted by Sarah Bragg and each week she interviews a different woman to hear how she is surviving life. Sarah ends the interview by asking her guest a few things that are helping them to survive. She goes on to clarify that these items don’t have to be spiritual because she also enjoys other things like coffee and Target. I can totally relate to that sentiment. Following the interview, Sarah reflects on what she learned from her guest or anything that stood out from their stories.

I’ve been most impacted by the women who have families while at the same time manage a career, business, blog or ministry. One very interesting guest was Cheryl Bachelder the CEO of Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen (episode 42). I loved hearing how she leads her staff with humility and poise. Although I don’t aspire to be a CEO the insight on leadership at any level was inspiring.

Additionally, another theme I’ve gathered from listening is that we may make plans for our lives but ultimately God’s plan always prevails. For example, one woman became a single mother while being a missionary, other women have struggled with infertility, or dealt with failed adoptions or unexpected pregnancies, while other guests have struggled with issues from their past including suicide of family members or postpartum depression. In other examples, God has provided opportunities and opened doors that some women never dreamed of like being an artist, or starting a nonprofit, or designing products to help with children’s emotional intelligence. I’m learning to let go of my plans and to be open to what God has in store for me. Although I find this really hard because I thrive on predictability I trust that His plans are best for me. Hearing others women’s stories has really encouraged me in this area.

Thirdly a statement that I have heard multiple times on this podcast is to “do the next right thing”. In times of stress or feeling overwhelmed or even sad, listeners have shared how they have just done the next right thing. Whether that’s reading your child a story or making dinner, it’s about not giving up. I’ve tried to remember this phrase when I just want to quit or waste an hour on the internet. Sometimes the next right thing is cleaning off the table so I have a place to work when I get home. That one simple task helps me feel motivated to keep going with the rest of my day.

My favourite and the most impacting episode I listened to was with Mo Isom (whom I’ll be featuring in an upcoming Favourites post!) episode 34, she is full of such Biblical wisdom and real, relatable, heartbreaking life experience. I found her story very compelling to hear. I’m looking forward to reading her new book Wreck My Life: Journeying from Broken to Bold in the near future. Honestly, it’s hard to choose favourites because every episode has impacted me in some way. Episode 24 with Tracy Levinson is also another favourite, she inspired me with her boldness in expressing her views to others and how she articulated her message on sexuality. Overall my favourite thing about Surviving Sarah is that the podcast is geared toward women. Not moms, or wives or singles or working moms or stay at home moms. Just women in whatever stage of life they are in. This is what really attracted me to Sarah’s podcast. I hold the same value with my blog, I want to appeal to a broad range of readers. Although I tend to write about what I’m going through, my intent is never to put my identity in being married or a wife. Those roles are only a part of who I am. I want this blog to express who I am as a person, what my interests are and my reflections on life. Sarah has a good balance of women from various stages and life experiences on her show. It’s great to learn from women who have been married for thirty years or who are first-time mothers. Although our experiences are different we can always learn from what others have gone through.

 


I’m going to end this post similar to how Sarah ends her interviews by listing a few things that are helping me survive! I’d love to hear what’s been helping you survive lately too (:
  • Podcasts! I’ve pretty much stopped listening to radio in favour of a good long podcast
  • The too rare conversations/hangouts I have with my mom and bestie <3
  • Baths I love relaxing in the warm water and reading a book for pleasure (right now I’m reading the true story behind the Sound of Music)
  • Music! I love listening to Spotify while I’m cleaning, making supper or just hanging out. It instantly brings my mood up

 

 

 

 

 

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