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Good Morning, 2017

As I sit here on my couch, I’m writing my annual new year’s post and I have no idea what direction I’m going to take it in this year. Of course, it will have my annual Year In Review Picture Show, but you’re also reading the birth of a thought – a thought that I need to hear myself and one that’s manifested as a result of other voices I’ve heard over the last few months. I’ve been reflecting on the past year, my life, how I want 2017 to go and what I want my life to look like a year from now. Isn’t that what we all do? Sit and reflect? Say this new year will be a better one because the past year wasn’t that great? We come up with resolutions to make our life better and then fall off the bandwagon a month or two or three down the road. Our year ends up looking like every other year … or maybe that’s just me.

How can we make this year different? And better than 2016?

Initiate the Boomerang Effect

When you look at people as a whole, we all just want to be happy and our happiness is derived from feeling loved, accepted, appreciated, healthy and successful. The best thing I’ve learned in my first year of marriage is to make the other person’s happiness become your own. And it’s hard because I’m a really selfish person and struggle with it, but when you put yourself out there for others before yourself, it ends up coming back to you. Kindness travels. Focus on becoming someone who is loving and kind to others. Focus on becoming someone who puts the needs of others before your own. It takes one person to start a chain reaction, but imagine how many more people could be reached if everyone made a change within themselves for the benefit of everyone. It would change the world.

You can’t force other people to love you, accept you, or appreciate you. Life doesn’t work that way. But if you do things for others that will make someone want to appreciate you and if you love and are accepting of others than people will want to return that not just to you, but to others as well. It becomes something like a boomerang; once you throw it out into the world it will eventually return to you – if not reaching other people before it does.

Start a Bucket List

Create a list of what you want to accomplish and do this year or even what you want to do over the course of your life. You can make a simple list or if you’re a visual person create a vision board.

I got to cross off three things on my bucket list/vision board in 2016. It was such a great feeling! Not because I necessarily accomplished something great, but because I’ve been able to say I’ve experienced something new that I wanted to experience. I did it in my lifetime and I can tell you about it. I can show you pictures from my wedding, tell you about my time in Ireland, or my experience being pregnant and giving birth to our first child. That’s so rewarding! What’s even more rewarding is saying you set a goal, worked hard to achieve it, and you did!

Get an idea of what you want so you can start setting goals to reach the really big ones.

Set Goals

You can’t get anywhere or do anything without goals. You HAVE to have them. You have to have them in order to be successful with anything. Even being healthy or financially stable requires goals. Our life is structured around it. It’s not just about becoming a millionaire or losing 100 lbs.  It’s paying the mortgage and healing from a cold. A goal is composed of an action and a time frame you need to complete the action in to achieve a certain result. For example: you have to do x, y, and z at work (the action) within 40 hours during a 5 day period (the time frame) in order to make x amount of money (the result). If you do that (the action) for 50 years (the time frame) then you get to retire (the result). It’s a formula. You can fill it in with whatever you want. Each result that you want gets broken down into smaller and smaller goals so it’s easier to achieve by focusing on something small one step at a time. The key is to figure out what you want out of life, get a game plan, take it one day at a time, stay positive and just do it.

You can’t rely on others for your happiness. You can’t hope for change and expect other people to make it. You have to do the dirty work. You have to become the best version of yourself. You have to be the one making a difference. It starts with you.

Final words of wisdom for the new year: You can’t control things that are out of your control. Make the best of your circumstances.

I love and appreciate you for finding your way here and reading this. I hope you have the best year yet in 2017. Reflect in the comments below and share with me your favorite memory from 2016, something you checked off of your bucket list in 2016/setting to check off in 2017, or a goal you’ve accomplished in 2016/set for 2017. Can’t wait to read your responses!

Making A Self Care Plan


It’s been four weeks since I had my son and life has been a lot different than what I expected. First off, I have to say I’ve been incredibly blessed with a very good baby who is content and cries minimally compared to what I was expecting and a husband who will take baby shifts and helps out as much as he can with our son. Additionally though, I’ve found that taking care of myself is extremely important in not just warding off postpartum depression, but feeling down in general. Making a habit of implementing these things into my routine make me feel happier and better not only internally, but externally as well. This list may not be for everyone, but it’s a great starting place and one you can always adapt to fit your preferences.

Meditation

For me, this means finding myself in a peaceful environment so I can pray and focus on the betterment of myself. Sometimes this includes singing praise and worship and other times it focuses on reading the Bible. A lot of times I will journal.

Gratitude Journal

With Thanksgiving this week, this is such a great idea to implement. I’ve heard it said that when we focus on what we are thankful for in our lives it doesn’t leave any room to be disappointed or sad due to dwelling on what we don’t have in our lives. I often include this as part of my meditation, but I will make a point to write something down everyday that I am thankful for and reflect on that blessing and why I am grateful for it.

Self Reflection

Sometimes there are obvious things in my life that make me feel down and out. And sometimes if I self reflect, I see it sticking out at me like a sore thumb and I know exactly what I need to do in order to change it. If I’m feel emotionally down, maybe I’ve wronged someone and I need to apologize or I haven’t dealt with myself about how I feel in regards to a certain issue. If I’m feeling down physically, maybe I’m just not eating as healthy as I should be or I’m not staying hydrated enough.

Get Ready for the Day

Even if you have plans to chill at home all day, get out of those pjs! (ESPECIALLY if you work from home!) Unless this is your first day off in an entire year and you want to relax in your comfy jammies and that’s the only thing in the world that will make you incandescently happy (I know, I know … all I want is my onesie and my bed too) put on some street clothes. Don’t worry, you can still be comfy – just make sure you’re dressed appropriately to greet the pizza guy at your door. And of course it isn’t required, but it feels good to feel put together so if you want to have some fun why not do your makeup and hair even if it’s for no one but yourself? You deserve it more than anyone, right? For me, I just feel like my day is wasted when I sleep in super late, I’m not dressed for the day, when I’ve skipped my skin care routine, and haven’t done anything to get myself ready.

Pamper Yourself

Going above and beyond just getting ready, my favorite pick me up is taking the time to really invest in myself by using a special facial mask, drawing a hot, bubble bath, giving myself a manicure, or some other type of pamper routine. It makes me feel rejuvenated and refreshed. I feel good because I’ve taken the time to take extra care of myself, but I also feel good because I’ve done something good for my body and it shows.

Do What You Love

Whether you’re a mom or not, I’m finding it’s incredibly important to not let motherhood be the only thing that defines me. No one thing in life should define you. I have interests, hobbies, and passions. I have other responsibilities and commitments and although my son comes first, my life is much bigger than just him. Remembering that so I can do something I enjoy for a little bit has made me feel much more content in my circumstances. Whether it’s sneaking in some scrapbooking, photography, or blogging while he’s napping or while my husband is spending time with him gives me a sense of wholeness.

Declutter

I would have never said this while I was pregnant, but cleaning has been something I’ve found to be therapeutic in a way. A messy house is visual noise and I find myself distracted, uncomfortable, and unproductive when it’s not clean. Now that I have my energy back, I’ve been able devote more time to it and it’s given me a sense of relief to be in a tidier space.

These have been the biggest help to me and what I gravitate toward to feel better when I’m feeling blue or need a pick-me-up. Other things I do include exercising and purging my emotions in a journal both of which I know are other popular ways of feeling better for a lot of people. What does your self care plan look like? What do you do to feel better?

loveamanda

 

5 Key Steps To Being Successful

keytosuccess

1. Identify Your Goal

Are you working towards a financially stable income and comfortable lifestyle, losing weight, running a marathon, climbing Mt. Everest? Figure out what you’re doing. Break that goal down into smaller goals and keep doing it until those goals become achievable today instead of x amount months or days down the road. Need help breaking down your goals and creating a plan? Click here.

2. Connect With Your “Why”

Why is this goal important to you? If you don’t get the feels when you answer that question you need to dig deeper until you become so emotionally connected and passionate about why you are working towards that goal that you maintain your stamina to keep pressing forward regardless of the obstacles in your path.

3. Understand Your Personality

Take a D.I.S.C. personality test. It will help you better understand your personality so you know how to motivate yourself. A D personality is motivated by seeing other people achieve that goal and it drives them to achieve it too, an I personality is motivated by rewards and prizes, an S personality is motivated by praise, and a C personality is motivated by stability and routine.

4. Become Self-Disciplined

Start small and build your routine day by day. Stick to your schedule and little by little your actions will become habits. Developing good habits is what will make or break your progress. It’s hard. It’s uncomfortable. Nothing worthwhile in life ever came easy. No excuses. Seriously, just do it.

5. Stay Positive

That about says it all. If you need some motivation or positivity listen to Joel Osteen or download The Daily Boost podcast. Whatever you do don’t let negativity come anywhere near you. Push it away with positive thoughts, and positive affirmations. You can totally do this. Embrace the power of positivity.

 

Let me know if these 5 key steps to being successful have helped you and if you do something different to hold yourself accountable to being successful.

Words of Affirmation


iamenough

We live in a world that is broken because we are a broken people. We became focused so much on ourselves we tore other people down in order to build ourselves up. As a result, this war of humanity made us just as vulnerable as the next person. We weren’t just the one dishing out the next blow, but we were also the one receiving it. When will we realize that we are just hurting ourselves every time we say or do something that is unkind? It’s time to think before we speak and think before we do. As we venture into a hope filled future, we must journey within ourselves to identify the pain and brokenness that makes us who we are. We have to acknowledge that we are more than that. So much more. It’s time to take back our true identity, heal and mend our wounds, and begin the process of growth and change in ourselves so we can end this war. Our destiny is defined by our values. Our values are defined by our habits. Our habits are defined by our actions. Our actions are defined by our words. I challenge you to start with words … words of affirmation that you will tell yourself everyday until they become actions, habits, values, and eventually your destiny.  Use the photographs in this post as wallpapers on your phone to remind you of encouraging truths every day. If you aren’t hearing these truths from yourself or other people in your life, know that I will be the one to remind you everyday … and so will God. The Bible is filled with these encouraging truths to remind us.

youarebeautiful

youarehealthy

youarejoyful

youareloved

youaresuccessful

youarethankful

 

Embrace Your [True] Value

Whether it’s in the whir of rushing through a crowd of people or it’s in the quiet hum of my own thoughts before I fall asleep at night, there are still times when I get the best of myself – when my mind runs down dark paths of loneliness, doubt, and self-destruction. I wonder if my thoughts are right and if there is a truth to them. It’s the haunting reality that I’m not enough. I’m not pretty enough. I’m not skinny enough. I don’t work hard enough. That even with my best efforts, they aren’t good enough. That even at the best version of myself it’s still not good enough. And, yes, there is some truth to that. I will never be perfect. Knowing that isn’t the hard part. The hard part is still believing that I can get as close to perfect as possible and being disappointed in myself when I still fall short. This cycle leads me to devaluing myself. It’s not just with my own thoughts, but the ghosts from my past whose whispers still glide past my ears reminding me of their words that made me feel so insecure and sensitive to who I am both inside and out in the first place.

But I’m not the only one. There has to be someone else out there who feels the same way, who fights with her thoughts, and struggles with her self-worth, insecurities, and confidence

  • About 20% of teens will experience depression before they reach adulthood.
  • Over 70% of girls age 15 to 17 avoid normal daily activities, such as attending school, when they feel bad about their looks.
  • 7 in 10 girls believe that they are not good enough or don’t measure up in some way, including their looks, performance in school and relationships with friends and family members.

Not only am I not the only one, but these feelings and thought process start at a young age. Devaluing one’s self and one’s life can, at an extreme, result in suicide which is the second leading cause of death from 10-24 year olds.

Regardless of your choices, ethnicity, weight, height, success, or even how YOU think or perceive yourself, let me tell you something …

Everyone at one point or another in their life struggles with insecurities, their self-worth, and confidence. That means you’re not alone in this fight. I’m not alone in this fight. But it also means that this is a fight worth battling because if so many people are going through it then we need to find a way to be victorious.

These truths aren’t just ones I have to accept, but ones I HAVE to believe in completely. Someone can tell you something and you can agree with what they have to say, but if you don’t truly believe it then you aren’t going to allow it motivate you to make a change. These are truths that anyone who struggles with self-worth need to not just agree with or accept, but truly believe in order to be victorious in this battle.

Truth #1

I am not perfect and never will be perfect, but my level of perfection is not equivalent to my value. I know this is true because of truth #2.

 “For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day.”

-Galatians 5:17

Truth #2

There is no perfection in humanity which is why it took a man who was 100% human and 100% God and in His sinless and perfect nature was able to take my penalty of death upon himself and give me a life of freedom and redemption. If I were valueless, why would such a man choose to go through unimaginable pain, agony, and eventually die for me? His death gives me value.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.

– Romans  8:28

Truth #3

My value is immeasurable as a result of Christ’s act of love. His love was the adoption seal that made me a daughter of the Most High King. By default I’m not just royalty, but a Princess. A Princess’ value is immeasurable.

“I will be a Father to you,
And you shall be My sons and daughters,
Says the Lord Almighty.”

-2 Corinthians 6:18

Truth #4

I can never be too beautiful or too ugly, too skinny or too fat, too rich or too poor for God because regardless of my imperfection I AM enough. His love is unconditional and His love gives me value.

Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture:”

-Romans 8:35

 

Truth #5

And even though my beauty does not give me value I can be confident in knowing that I am the most beautiful creature on earth because I am fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image who has defined beauty Himself. 

I thank you, High God – you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration – what a creation!”

-Psalm 139:14

These truths have helped me to realize that my value is not found in my perception of what my value is or even in what other people’s perception of what my value is. My value is based on the truth of Christ. If that weren’t true, I would have no real value, but He is the reason this battle, I personally face and our society faces, can be won and why we can have victory to take back our confidence, laugh at our insecurities, and once and for all embrace our true value. I hope this can be an encouragement to you today. What ways do you overcome your insecurities? What are the truths you believe and live by?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:
http://dosomething.org
http://jasonfoundation.com/prp/facts/youth-suicide-statistics/

 

Discovering Your Purpose

dypgml

I want to talk about purpose today. Discovering the purpose for my life has always been something I’ve wondered, asked, and pursued since I was born. Maybe you too have always wondered,  “What should I do with my life? Why am I here? What is my purpose?”.

Over the last couple years, as I’ve had bills come in and the focus of my life has been on college and a career, I’ve noticed the specific emphasis placed on that in our society. I can’t help but feel like the purpose of my life is to have a “good” job in order to make money so that I can have material possessions and creature comforts. Nothing is wrong with having a good job and a career. In fact, I’m all in support for hard work and diligence. Work is a necessity for the bare minimum of provision. However, a career – making money – can’t be the end all be all of life. A job day in and day out that stresses you, overworks you, and makes you crash as soon as you get home just to fall asleep and have to wake up and continue the cycle another day, is not my idea of what the purpose of life should be like. At least, that’s not what I want the purpose of my life to be. So how do we shape our purpose and what are the boundaries of doing so?

Our Purpose is Dependent on What Defines Us

Regardless of what we want our purpose to look like, our purpose is dependent upon what defines us. Who are you? A mom or dad, wife or husband, brother or sister, son or daughter, friend? Police officer or manager, employee or employer, student or teacher? Whatever defines you, your purpose is to meet the needs of what it is that has given you that title first and foremost for however long you possess it whether you want to or not. Whatever you are be a good one.

I am a believer. This means my purpose is to fulfill God’s will for my life. (John 7:17) Believe it or not, God’s will is not fate or destiny. God’s will is not the bullseye of a target. God’s will is guided by ideas and principles that lead us into an entire field of possibilities. God’s will is anything within the circle of the target.

Such instances where His will is defined:

  • Be joyful in all things (1 Thessalonians 5:16)
  • Never stop communicating with God (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
  • Be thankful no matter what (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
  • Live purely (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5)
  • Do good: “live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God”  (1 Peter 2:15-16)
  • God’s will for His Son is the same as His will for believers. We are called to love and in doing so sacrifice ourselves – our will/desires – for that of others’ so they can see a picture of the ultimate sacrifice Jesus made because of His love for us.

Our Purpose is Found in the Pursuit of Our Passions

We’ve been given gifts and talents. Some can sing others can draw. Maybe you’re just really good at communication or comforting someone in need. My spiritual gifts are exhortation, wisdom, and faith. My physical gifts are writing and photography. These may be God’s gifts to me, but to use them – and use them for God’s glory – is showing my gratitude and giving Him my gifts in return.

Create a Visual

  1. Make a list of your passions, talents, and dreams. What do you enjoy, aspire to do, accomplish, and achieve?
  2. Make a list of your responsibilities based on what defines you. Being a homeowner requires you to pay the mortgage and water bill. Being a mom means taking care of and providing for your children.
  3. Looking at your passions, which ones align with your responsibilities?
  4. Now, set goals for yourself and work towards achieving them.

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

-Psalm 138:8

Loving It: Passion Planner

lovingitpassionplanner

It’s been about a month since my long awaited Passion Planner finally arrived. I had high expectations when I got it and let me say … it’s lived up to those expectations and beyond. This planner is designed to help you gain clarity in setting goals, developing a timeline, and figuring out what you need to do in order to reach those goals. The thought process is truly spectacular. Here’s a sneak peak into the goal training that Passion Planner provides. There are so many features and design elements in this planner I’ve never seen before that really sets it apart from other planners. The encouraging quotes, weekly challenges, and monthly reflections make it so personal. I love that it’s not just a place to record your schedule, but it’s a place to write your to do lists, hold yourself accountable, and truly chase after your passions.

passionplanner

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’ You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt (quote from Passion Planner)

passionplanning

A planner is only as good as the person who utilizes it, but if you utilize this then I think you will be pleased with the results. The creators know the value of this tool so much that they even have free downloadable templates that you can get at www.PassionPlanner.com.

What are your thoughts about the Passion Planner? Is it something you would use?

How to Plan for Achieving Your Dreams

howtoachieveyourdreams

The only difference between a dream and a goal is that a goal has a deadline. You achieve your dreams by setting goals.

You set goals by constantly breaking those goals down into smaller and smaller doable and bite sized tasks that help you achieve the big goal.

The beauty of this exercise is that creates a visual road map and plan that guides you to setting goals and achieving your dreams.

BRAINSTORM

First, brainstorm what you want out of life. What are your dreams? Who do you want to be? What do you want to do?

Take the next couple of minutes to brainstorm on a piece of paper what you want your future to look like. Once you have your list, categorize it based on when you want it to happen: 3 months from now, a year, 3 years, or lifetime. You can print this template to help you organize your thoughts.

 PRIORITIZE

For each time frame, circle ONE goal that would give most impact to your life. This will leave you with four main goals to work towards. In my example, the four goals are eat healthy (3 months), graduate (1 year), start a business (3 years), and have a family (lifetime). The key is to work on one goal at a time and focus all of your energy into that one to get it done the quickest and then move on to the others.

BREAK IT DOWN

Which of those four goals would have the most positive impact on your life at this very moment? Make that your “Goal Changer”. List all of the small steps you would need to take to reach that goal. For example if getting healthy was my goal changer then I would think about all of the things that would make me healthier: exercise, eating healthier, drinking water, getting enough sleep, taking vitamins etc. Organize your thoughts with this template.

Break those down even further with details. List how you’ll be exercising. Will you be running? Doing yoga? Who will you be doing it with? How often will you be doing it? When will you start? How much weight do you plan on losing? When do you plan on losing it by?

PLUG IT IN

Of your main tasks, which ones do you need to accomplish first. List them in chronological order and assign dates to them. Add those goals to your planner so you can keep track of accomplishing them and it will be easier to hold yourself accountable.

*Exercise adapted from the amazing Passion Planner that you can totally buy here to help you schedule your goals and put them into a weekly routine.

The Daily Plan – Scheduling Tool

Today, I want to share with you a tool I use to help me with my daily planning and scheduling. Planners are great and all, but I need more than just a play by play of my day. I need a break down of what I actually need to do and accomplish. I’m also a crazy note jotter so I need a lot of space to to have my notes organized. This is something you can fill out the night before to keep you on task for the following day. Because I think this is such a great tool, I’m including it as a free printable download.

How To Use The Daily Plan

| TODAY |

In the top left you can feel free to circle the day of the week and write the date below it for future reference.

| H2O |

Keep track of how many glasses of water you’re drinking each day

| B | L | D |

Make a note of what you plan on making for breakfast, lunch, and dinner

| F |

Hold yourself accountable to your fitness goals by committing to what you will be working on.

| To Do |

Make a list of what you need to do for the day.

| Daily Tasks |

Maybe you need to wake up at a certain time, you want to try out a specific makeup look, or today is your exfoliant day – here you would put reminders for daily tasks.

| 5 Most Important Things |

What are the 5 most important tasks for the day? Pull them from your to do list, goals, events, daily tasks, etc. Make your number 1 priority the hardest task on your list.

| Purchase |

This isn’t a grocery list, but just a place to quickly add a reminder for you to get something you need that you can collectively add to a grocery list before you go to the store. Maybe you ran out of shampoo this morning and you need to pick some up after work.

| Events |

Whether it’s work, a doctor’s appointment, or lunch with a friend, you can remind yourself of those important meetings here.

| Goals |

List the tasks that will help you towards your weekly goal or tasks that help you meet your daily goal. Run 5 miles? Write it down. Complete two pages for your term paper due Thursday? Write it down.

| Notes |

For anything else you can think of, doodles, the phone number of someone you met, what have you.

Hope this could be a smart and effective tool for you to use to be more productive in your daily schedule and working towards your goals. You can download The Daily Plan here.

Bed Time Routine

btr

The older I get, I realize more and more how important it is to not only have a schedule, but to have a daily routine. This includes a set time to go to bed that will allow you to wake up with enough sleep and time to go through your morning routine before work, meetings, appointments etc. Here’s my newly updated bed time routine that prepares me to get a well-rested night sleep and makes it easier for me to wake up in the morning. Hopefully it can be an inspiration to you in developing your own bed time routine.

1. Remove Makeup/ Wash Face – feeling clean

2. Brush Teeth – proper hygiene

3.  Drink a glass of water – stay hydrated

4. Set alarm across room – forget snoozing

5. Turn phone off and charge – no midnight interruptions

6. Turn on the heating blanket – & no freezing this winter!

7. Plan an exciting breakfast to eat in the morning – gives you something to look forward to

8. Schedule the following day by making a list of the 6 most important tasks with the hardest being number 1

9. Read a book – crack a binding and feel the ink printed words as you turn pages the old fashioned way

10. Turn off all of the lights – you get better sleep in total darkness

I make sure I get 8-9 hours of sleep every night. Your body needs rest and time to heal.

What is your bed time routine?