March Favorites: Skincare, Makeup & Haircare.

I am a product junkie.

There, I said it. The first step is admitting it right? For those of you that know me really well, you know that I am a true product junkie. You name it, more than likely I have used it at some point or another. I even held a VIB Rouge status once upon a time at Sephora. Am I proud of that? I don’t know..maybe; I’ll never tell. While I have been a Beauty Guide for LimeLife by Alcone for a little over two years now, I still have a few other brands that carry items that I like to call “must-haves” and I will be sharing those as well as my favorite LimeLife products. Don’t use skincare or makeup? Don’t click off of here too soon, this isn’t just about those two things. I’m going to tell you about what products I love, what they do and where you can find them.

This is in no way sponsered or organized by Sephora, LimeLife by Alcone, Jentry Kelley Cosmetics, Wella, Peter Thomas Roth, Kristen Ess or Target. This is just a short list of some of my favorites and my reviews; ENJOY!
If you would like to try any LimeLife By Alcone products you can reach me via the Get In Touch button at the top of the page or get in touch with your favorite beauty guide to start learning about all of the amazing products!

But first, skin care.

It’s going to be hard not to name every single product I love so I will try to keep this short and sweet.

One of the first products that I absolutely cannot live without is the Peter Thomas Roth FIRMX Peeling Gel. This is a Sephora find from years ago. It’s good for all skin types; it removes and sweeps away the dead skin on your face. You can literally feel the dead skin lifting from your face as you manually exfoliate. I typically use this once or twice a month because I still like to use Bamboo Renew or Skin Polish by LimeLife in between. And least we forget, I like to shave my face too. Between all of this, my face is smoother than my kids booties.

My next skincare favorite is without at doubt, One Drop Wonder by LimeLife by Alcone. It’s made from 100% cold pressed pomifera oil and is exclusive to LimeLife as a skincare product.  It’s chemical free, UV protective, high in anti-oxidants and Omega-6. This product is good for so many things:

Anti-bacterial, Anti-fungal, Anti-microbial and Anti-viral

Helps with skin ailments such as eczema, rosacea, acne, psoriasis, dermatitis, spider veins, varicose veins, bruising, stretch marks, blisters, cold sores, staph, shingles, ulcers, bug bites, cuts, burns, diaper rash, scars, sun spots and more.

Not only do I love it for my skin but I love it for the girls too. My oldest daughter is super sensitive to mosquito bites and this is the only product that actually works in healing them and quickly. Add Forty Cure Cream to the mix and you’ve got a magical concoction.

The last set of products I will list here are from the new Midnight Oil Collection. It’s a cleanser and a serum by LimeLife as well and its antioxidant-rich with Marula Oil and Millet Seed extract (yes, I know; I’m rattling your head off about LimeLife…but it’s SO GOOD y’all!) These two products work together to heal and improve your skins radiance and illuminate your complexion while you sleep.

I was super skeptical of, specifically, the cleanser at first when I started using these. I’ve always used a cleanser that’s sudsy my entire life so there was definitely a mental barrier there telling me this just wasn’t going to do the job. What I really should have done was take some before, during and after photos of my skin to monitor changes because within a few short weeks of using this collection along with my other skincare routine, I started getting compliments everywhere I turned! People were telling me that my skin was glowing and my complexion looked so good! Best part? I didn’t have makeup on. My own opinion of myself without make up is that I look somewhere between the Crypt Keeper and a Billy Goat so this has been a huge confidence boost that all these people were giving me. And this set of products were my only change up!

Let your hair do the talking.

I have quite a few hair favorites and to be honest, I’m not really sure where to begin! Perhaps I should start off with my hair type because, obviously, I don’t want you to run straight to the store or the world wide web and start shopping for the same things I love if they’re not going to work for your hair type. My hair is crazy curly, wavy and has frizz ball tendencies. I have a medium type hair texture, which means it’s not fine but it’s not coarse either. It’s riiiight in between the two. It’s relatively healthy also. While I still color it, I don’t bleach very often, I’ve kind of grown fond of my dark roots.

One of my favorite hair products is the Wella Elements Leave In Conditioning Spray. Not only does it smell amazing but its basically formulated with the same milk and honey that flows in the Heavens. Directly from the Wella website, it’s a paraben free leave in dual-phase spray that cares and protects hair from day to day stress and delivers a gentle hold. I LOVE this product because it smooths my hair out and makes it super easy to de-tangle mine and my girls crazy curly hair. It’s not heavy either! Win/Win! You can find this on Amazon or you can probably ask you hairstylist to order some for you!

Next, I love the Kristen Ess line from Target. My hairstylist friends are now rolling their eyes at me, I can feel it. Specifically, I love the Reviving Dry Shampoo and the Dry Finish Working Texture Spray. The Dry Shampoo features a translucent powder base and is infused with vitamin c. It’s not overly heavy but it definitely does the job and is not a bad price point either. The texture spray is exactly that but it’s not the kind that gives a hard or sticky hold. It’s very light but effective! I always use the texture spray after I curl my hair and without fail, it always looks amazing! One of the other reasons why I like this line, it’s very affordable when your budget is tight! Even the shampoo and conditioner work really well!

Makeup is art. Beauty is spirit.

This is probably my favorite part of this entire write up. Makeup is my life y’all. People think it’s just because I’m girly and I like girly things. What they don’t know is that makeup is an outlet for me. For years, it’s been a way to hide how I really felt inside. If nobody could see in, if I could cover up my past and my insecurities and raw emotions with a little concealer and lipstick, if I could avoid people asking me if I was okay or feeling well..then my makeup did it’s job for the day. I used makeup as an art source to conceal all of my deepest and darkest feelings.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have worked through my troubles and I don’t actually wear makeup everyday anymore. It’s been a long process of self development and learning how to love myself and my life that has truly transformed me. I’m not afraid to let people see the real me, flaws and all. The other way was just as exhausting as depression was so I encourage you, if you are on the same road as I was, please..please work on yourself.  You won’t regret it. Makeup is a beautiful tool to conceal those inner and outer flaws but if you can tackle and concur those things, your beauty will be more than just a mask.

One of the first products I want to go over is foundation. If it’s on the market, I have probably used it. Powders, cremes, liquids, sticks, cc’s & bb’s as well as tinted moisturizers. All brands, from drug stores to high end department stores. There are several out there that are really, really good. But the true test of it all was in the hot summer heat in Louisiana. If you’re from here or have been here you know that the kind of hot we have doesn’t just stop at temperature. You know that the kind of heat we have is the kind where as soon as you walk outside, you are immediately pitting and sweating from every God given surface and crease of your body. It’s not a dry hot, it’s a wet hot. Have you ever been in a steam room? That’s Louisiana. You MELT. So despite all of these foundations being good or high end, they would melt too! By lunch(actually before..), I would look like a fresh bowl of queso at my favorite restaurant. And the same would apply to my models or clients who had to be out in the heat too, despite primers or setting powders or sprays. I’m one particular companies only trusted hair and makeup artist and every summer, we do shoots in New Orleans.  Every single year, I was constantly touching up the models makeup because she would literally be dripping all over The Big Easy. It was super frustrating. I like to think that I can do amazing work but its hard to showcase it when your tools don’t perform as they promise in weather conditions hotter than hades. When I decided to join LimeLife, it had everything to do with the foundation. It’s a wax based, paraben free and highly pigmented foundation and truly sets and stays in place with the help of the primer and setting products. The following year for that photo shoot, I told the owner I was switching up my entire makeup line and using all LimeLife. I think he was super skeptical and nervous just because it’s a change and obviously, the makeup REALLY matters. But y’all, my models makeup never melted. She sweated but her makeup never moved. We were in abandoned warehouses with no air conditioning in the middle of the summer and the only time I had to touch up the makeup was when we changed lip colors. If that doesn’t speak heights, I don’t know what does.

LimeLife’s Foundation is the bees knees, hands down. It’s waxed based, highly pigmented and paraben free. It’s build-able also. You can use a little and get light coverage and you can build on top of that to achieve full coverage. You can even mix it with some Dew Date or Skin Therapy moisturizers and transform it into a tinted moisturizer or bb cream. Pair the foundation with their Primer, Translucent Powder and Setting Spray and your base face is bullet proof!

One of my next favorites is by Jentry Kelley Cosmetics. I had the opportunity to meet her once a few years ago. She is so beautiful, inspiring and hilarious. She’s out of Houston, Texas so if you ever find yourself needing a makeover while you’re in the area, be sure to reach out to her office to schedule an appointment. She and her team of gorgeous women will get you set up. You won’t be disappointed! She has formulated and created a full line of some of the highest quality makeup and skin care products also! One product in particular that I love from her line is the Brow Lift-Light. I love this stuff because it highlights matte under the brow to give off a natural look. It will really help illuminate if you want to use a light shimmery eye shadow as well. This product is to be applied to the outer 2/3 of the underside of the brow area to give the illusion of a brow lift. I love this stuff! Not to mention, a little goes a long way so this little product lasts forever. Side note- if you ever decide to check out her book, Hooker to Looker, you will find a photo of me in there that I submitted as a makeup fail before I really knew what I was doing…facepalm. We all start somewhere!

Lastly, the holy grail of lipsticks..the Enduring Lip Colors. I’ve used multiple brand name dry matte lipsticks and none of them stay as good as these. The color pay off is unreal and they don’t make your lips appear or feel chapped. I know you know what I mean when I say that. They apply buttery and cure into a matte finish. If you want to speed up the process you can dust some translucent powder on top of them and voila, it’s cured! I used to be all about a moisturizing lipstick that felt like a chap-stick on my lips but I guess turning into a mama of two, I don’t have all the time in the world to keep re-touching my lips all day so running to one of the Enduring Lip Colors or Liners has turned into my new jam. After all, I love easy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Ways to Be Your Best Self

I’m going to get a little deep again this week. I find myself working even harder on myself whenever I am having some incredibly trying days and I would like to share what helps to get me through them.

Whenever we’re in our teens, I think it’s safe to say that we are all so confused with who we are, who and what we want to be when we grow up. All we worry about is what’s in front of us and that’s simply fitting in. Even into our 20’s we care so much about what other people think of us, that it can sometimes consume us and form ourselves. Like pudding or jello we just mold around what our family, friends or society thinks and tells us we should be.

Do you know what’s so sad about that? I don’t have statistics for any of this but I am willing to bet that probably over half of us(maybe even more) just conform instead of blossom. Even later on in age, we have grown so comfortable with this picture perfect image of who are supposed to be that we just don’t know any other way to be.

I can tell you without any hesitation at all that I fell into that category of someone who just tried to fit in. I was okay with being in the shadows because anytime I ever tried to speak my mind or be myself, I was heavily judged and it was easier to just take my place in line and my number never being called.

As easy as it was though, it was so incredibly frustrating. My mother always encouraged me to just be myself but she never quite understood the part where I didn’t feel like I was good enough or the person I was would ever be accepted.

So, by now you’re probably wondering where I am going with this exactly. I can’t tell you the exact moment in which I told myself I had enough but I can tell you that the inner voice was always screaming at me until I finally freaking did it. I can tell you that as things happened to me in my life, the voice only screamed louder.

I think I can pinpoint some things that can possibly help to guide you in this journey.

Find your tribe.

“Surround yourself with people who add value to your life. Who challenge you to be greater than you were yesterday. Who sprinkle magic into your existence, just like you do to theirs. Life isn’t meant to be done alone. Find your tribe and journey freely and loyally together.”   -Alex Elle

If we were all flowers instead of people and the sun never shined or it never rained, we would never, ever grow. Finding people who value you as much as you value them can change your life. The power in being able to be yourself, your true, honest, weird, quirky, silly self and people accepting and loving you as you are is a big deal. If you have that, you are blessed. Tell yourself that, right now. There are people right now who don’t have that and would love nothing more than the luxury of feeling like they belong.

Simply having this circle of people in your life can relieve so many different avenues of your life. I never really understood the gravity of having a tribe until recently. Don’t get me wrong, I have had a circle of friends and family for a while but I don’t think I actually gave them as much credit as they deserved. Not because I didn’t value them enough but I started learning and understanding how important I was in this crazy equation too. I already knew how important they were to me but I don’t think I ever thought about how much I meant to them. Maybe I’m crazy for even making this a part of this entry but part of what fuels me is knowing that I’m worth something to someone. Feeling important and needed is one of my love languages and getting that affirmation from my tribe has just resonated with me deeply.

Finding your tribe enables you to not only be a better person but grow into a better person too. These people have your back. They will help you when you’re struggling, they’ll tell you when you’re being ridiculous, they’ll cry with you when all the things are hard, they’ll push you when you don’t have it in you to push yourself, they’ll celebrate all things with you whether it’s big or small and they will love you with so much force that it only comes natural to offer these things back to them. These people will not belittle you, talk about you behind your back, make you feel unimportant or small; Real situations will expose these people to you. Choose your tribe wisely.

Faith it till you make it.

I’ll be incredibly forward with you, this is hard. When things happen that are beyond my understanding, sometimes I really have to talk myself into trusting Gods plan, whatever it may be. Other times, I’m not worried at all because I know the big man upstairs is in control and He’s already taken care of it, I only need be still.

The times that truly test my faith, I have to pray and I have to talk myself into trusting Gods plan. This requires effort. Effort that I sometimes cry through because I simply cannot see how on earth I will ever get that thorn out of my side..or in some cases, the knife out of my back.

I find myself being lost in true moments of despair where I only think about what’s going wrong and what I don’t have versus what I am so incredibly blessed with. I have to focus on humbling myself otherwise I get tossed around in the chaos in my head that makes me feel like I have nothing and no one and it will never get better. While my moments are genuinely chaotic for me, I have to remind myself that things could always be worse. There are people out there who probably beg God daily for the difficulties we face.

Practice pausing when you feel overwhelmed, pause when you feel angry, pause when you are exhausted, pause when you are hurt, pause when you feel anxiety, pause when you feel like you might explode or overreact and when you pause…you pray. In order to faith it till you make it, you have to believe there is something better coming.

Know your outlets.

This is going to be different for everyone. We all have different things that aid in filling our cups. I personally love sleep..lots of sleep that I never really get, working out, shopping, trips to the nail salon, spending time with my kids and family, a glass of wine, Sunday morning services, reading, podcasts, date nights with my husband…I could keep going, blogging is now one of my favorite outlets! I would say camping but after living in the camper for four months…I’m pretty confident I never want to see the inside of a camper again.

Whatever your outlet is for you, do it. Only if its good for you! Don’t get it twisted where you start doing things make you happy in the moment but are actually bad for you. Like stress eating for example…okay everyone loves cake except your pants. How many times have we all over done it and regretted it the minute we tried to button our favorite pair of jeans?

An outlet needs to be a good and happy stress reliever. Things that keep us on top of our A game and make us feel good about ourselves. It’s imperative that we take a time out as often as we can to keep our heads on straight. You cannot continuously give and give all the time when you have nothing left to offer. You’ve got to give yourself the opportunity to recharge. Things get messy when you are down to the bottom of  your spool. Wind up and start over.

Work on yourself.

This is where you will get uncomfortable. This is where you need to be raw and real with yourself. What are your likes and dislikes about yourself? I can’t answer this for you. What I can tell you is that this requires so much effort and even remembering in those little moments of opportunity to stand up and be courageous for yourself…or literally, just be YOU and not who you think everyone wants you to be.

When you break down what you like and dislike about yourself, be real about it. Are these really things you like or dislike about yourself or are these things that someone you value built you up to believe was a worthy quality? Because this isn’t about what Susie and Sally have to say about your character. This boils down to you being about to enjoy and live your best life and stop putting on a show for these people who don’t really like you to begin with! Worry about yourself and the person God made you out to be.  You’re the one who has to live with yourself anyways so why not save the soap opera for television and start living your days with your best self intact.

While we are being real about this, my whole ideology behind this is, is that you have to want to put the work in. No one can make you do anything you don’t want to do but if you feel it speaking to you, you need to do something about it. You are in control of your reality. Choose to be real over perfect. Choose to be happy over just existing. We have one life…how unsettling would it be to look back and realized that you lived someone else’s life because you were too afraid to live yours?

Trust the process.

” If everything in life made perfect sense, trust would hold little value. Accept each season as the uncomfortable and necessary process of growth.” -B.Oakman

Owning every part of your life can be life altering. Being able to accept your faults,  be patient and embracing uncertainty gives you the grace to trust the beautiful process of becoming. Nothing will happen overnight or in a week. Decide what it is you want out of yourself and your life, after that, do not settle.

How To Make A Gumbo. South Louisiana Style.

PSA: If you like tomatoes or hot dogs in your gumbo, this post is not for you.

I’d like to start off by telling you that I have lived in south Louisiana for just shy of fifteen years now but I grew up in a small town in North Louisiana. My grandparents lived down here and we visited more times than I can count.  I know good cookin’. Clearly…seen my physic lately? Unfortunately I didn’t know how to cook really well until a few years into being married. North Louisiana cookin’ and South Louisiana cookin’ are both good but the way these Cajun folks down here do things are entirely different and I like it.

Apparently, one of the main ways to make anything delicious around here is to burn it first.

No, seriously. It’s what any true Cajun will tell you. Ask and you’ll see. I’ve watched my mama cook my entire life but I don’t think I actually learned how to really cook until I started watching my husbands cousins wife(aka, Karyn, my bff!). She knows how to cook! Little does she know, I have watched and learned more from her over the years and if anyone thinks my food is good, it’s because I learned from her. You can thank her, not me! And if it’s not good, then it’s probably my fault because I hate following directions. I just like to stir stuff.

Gumbo is a classic dish in these parts. Doesn’t matter what time of the year it is. It could be a thousand degrees outside with a humidity level hotter than the inside of satan’s mouth and I guarantee somebody’s eating gumbo somewhere. But you best believe if the temperature drops below 50, every family across the south has pulled out their gumbo pots and the smell of fresh roux fills the crisp, cool air.

I’m going to share my recipe and cooking methods for gumbo. Just know that this is probably different from probably everybody else and their mama. They’d probably tell you there’s more than one way to skin a rabbit…and they’d be right.

Chicken & Sausage Gumbo:

•pack of fresh or smoked sausage. (This particular recipe I used fresh.)

•pack of chicken breasts or bone in chicken thighs/drumsticks. (Bone in is my favorite but I used breasts for this recipe.)

•Three packs of Tasso.

•Three large containers of chicken stock.

•Rice

•Minced Garlic.

•Holy Trinity, I like to use Guidry’s fresh cuts. Fast and easy. ( yellow onion, bell pepper and green onion.)

•Jar of Roux. Powder or Oil Base. (I used Oil based.) Unless you know how to make your own roux, in which case, you might have to come over and school me.

•Seasoning. (Tony’s, Salt, Pepper.)

This recipe can be altered and changed depending how much or how little you’d like to make.

I start off by putting my sausage and minced garlic into the gumbo pot and begin “burning” it. Basically, it means browning it so don’t get your panties in a bunch over this. Burning it means you’re creating a grismies or grah-doo at the bottom of the pot to create a rich gravy base for later. This step takes the longest so don’t rush this, this is probably the most important step! You stir the pot frequently with your heat high enough to burn or brown your meat but not to the point that the grismise starts to turn black or where it smells like there’s obviously something on fire. The longer you do this, the darker and tastier your gravy base will be. This whole process is simply burning, stirring and scraping until your meat is cooked and you have a nice gravy base to work with.I will add small amounts of water off and on during this process to keep the meat from sticking to the bottom of the pot too much. (Side note: my sausage kinda busted open, the goal is for that to not happen.. but ya know, life.)

Then, I remove the sausage and put it in a bowl to cool. I’ll add my diced up Tasso in the pot and repeat that same process. Once my sausage is cool, I will slice it up and add it back to the pot along with the Holy Trinity. The vegetables will have a little bit of water that cook out of them so they help continue the burning down process. Once those vegetables are cooked down, I will start adding all of my chicken stock. After I empty my first carton of stock, I will start scraping all of that grismies off the bottom of the pot and mixing it with the stock. Make sure you remove all of the grismies because you don’t want it to end up burning later! I empty the other two cartons of stock into the pot. This will usually fill up at least half of the pot. I will use water to fill the pot to about 3/4 of the way to the top. You don’t want to over fill because you need room for this puppy to boil!

At this point, I will add in seasoning. There really is no rhyme or reason on how to season. Some like it bland, some like it hot and sometimes your meats contain just enough seasoning that your dish might need a little,a lot or none at all. Now is the time where you can pretty much take your first break with your dish. I wait until the water is boiling to add my roux. Depending how well you did at burning your meat, you might not need very much roux at all or you may need a good bit. It also depends how dark and thick you would like your gumbo to be too. If I remember correctly, I think I only added two VERY full tablespoons of roux to this particular pot. Now you need to stir continuously until all of your roux balls disappear. Speaking of which, have you ever ate a roux ball? I don’t advise it. When in doubt, stir dat pot.

From now until about an hour or an hour and a half until you’re ready to serve, you’ll basically let your gumbo boil and simmer all those savory flavors together. Taste test your gumbo to make sure the flavor you’re wanting is there. Once you know you’re at about that 1-1.5 hour from serving mark, you’ll want to go ahead and add your chicken. For this recipe I used breast and cut them up into bite size pieces. Typically, my go to would be thighs or legs because something about bones really just amp up the flavor. But since this was for my daughters birthday party, I didn’t want any small children choking or having to pick bones out of their food. Side note, please be sure to taste test before you put your raw chicken in there..last thing anyone needs is to catch salmonella and die making gumbo. After you have added your chicken, you can go ahead and fire up that rice pot sha.

My gumbo takes a minimum of about three hours to cook but the longer you can cook, the better. You will never regret letting your gumbo cook longer, promise! Once your rice is done, you are ready to serve. If you’re feeling extra bougie you can serve some potato salad along side of this or even add some okra in the gumbo and your guests will undoubtedly love it. Or if you’re boring like me, you get garlic bread or crackers.

Bon appétit and laissez les bon temps rouler!

 

How To Take Control Of Anxiety & Depression

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Suffering from anxiety and depression means living on the edge..with basically everything. The tiniest things trigger you and cause a lot of mental chaos. It means overplaying scenarios in your mind on things you could have said or done but for whatever reason, you didn’t. For me it meant a lot of days spent in bed under the covers with the curtains and my eyes closed. It also meant a lot of nights of silent crying. You know the kind of cry where you curl up in a ball, you feel the ache in your chest and throat, then tears just come uncontrollably? The kind where you can’t breathe anymore but somehow you breathe through it because you don’t want to wake anyone in the house and being upset about it is easier than explaining it. Because let’s be honest, that’s way easier anyway since we don’t even understand it ourselves.

I’m going to tell you about some of my  struggles and how I internalize them. I want you to know that what I tell you might help you but it might not either. Each of our journeys are beautiful and unique in their own way. Even if we don’t see it that way at the time. The times that hurt or put us through hurt, those times aren’t necessarily beautiful but it’s how we react to those situations that mold us into stronger beings.

Blaming yourself.

I won’t tell you things happen for a reason and I won’t tell you ALL things happen according to God’s plan even though I’ve been raised to believe it all of my life. Or maybe a broken heart was all apart of God’s plan all along, who knows..all I know is the number one thing that set me back the most were those two phrases. At thirty years old I can’t come up with one solid reason that makes sense for why I was bullied in school, why I’ve had five pregnancies but only have two children, why my mother drank herself to death, why my father-in-law was murdered or why anything negative with friends, family or people in my life could go so incredibly sour. Trust me, I’ve taken a long hard look at myself in the mirror(quite a few times) and tried to figure out what was wrong with me and how these things could keep happening to me. I asked myself what I had done in my life to deserve these things. I beat myself up over these things because I’m a huge believer in what goes around comes around. Surely I did something somewhere along the way to deserve this kind of pain.  Perhaps I did. I have done so much bible reading, self-care reading and discovery, therapy, journaling and praying…I know my faults and I have worked and still work so hard on them to better myself. I know I will never be perfect and I never want to wear that kind of crown. But getting through my anxiety and depression is a constant run on the hamster wheel. Waking up happy doesn’t just happen. Something to factor in is that I didn’t choose depression or anxiety, it chose me. If it chose you too, you have to give yourself credit where it’s due. You did whatever you had to do to stay alive today. Even if it was as small as changing from one pair of pajamas to the next or showering, getting dressed and showing up to work, keeping your children fed and happy…you’re doing it! You’re doing what you have to do to keep going!

The reason I said I won’t tell you that all things happen according to God’s plan is because I think a lot of us tend to forget that there’s a fallen angel out there who’s only goal is to rip every good thing from our lives until we feel like we have nothing left to live for. Satan wants nothing more than to control our hearts and lives and bring us the most utter and sick sorrows. I think God’s plan for us would never intend to bring us such hurt or pain. The bible says in Deuteronomy 31:8 ” The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged.”

This might not be what you think or believe and that’s okay.

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Writing it all down.

One of the number one things that helped me was journaling. Something about putting it all down on paper helped to get it all out of my system. At the time, I wanted to write it all down because I didn’t want to forget anything that happened. Whether it was a dream, something that happened, how I was feeling..you name it. Anything and everything had fair game in my journal. It’s interesting to look back and read now. I still feel everything that I wrote down years ago but it’s inspiring to see how far I have come since then.

Learning to say no..and yes.

I think we all know darn good and well when we really ought to say yes and no to things but for whatever reason, we just don’t go with our gut. We do things we don’t really want to do for fear of upsetting someone or letting them down. In turn, we really end up letting ourselves down. Or those times when we know we should say yes because whatever it is, could be good for us but again..we do the opposite because fear of the unknown is a safer space.

The powerful and uplifting feeling of saying yes and no in the right times is key in my opinion. It can be incredibly uncomfortable especially when you know you’re letting someone down but when you finally do something positive for yourself for a change, those people get on board with it eventually. Not to mention, if these people truly care about you and your wellbeing, they’ll either understand or move on to the next person who lets them use them. You have to stick to your guns. Shutting out all sources of negativity helps you get through those dark seasons. It’s also incredibly uncomfortable saying yes to positive opportunities that could let some good in but it also brings in sources of light in for future seasons. Which is a good thing! Being able to say yes and no in the right times gives you the opportunity to take control back on your life.

motivational quotes
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Stop comparing yourself.

I still struggle with this all the time. I will not sit here and lie to you about that. One of the number one thief’s of joy is comparing yourself to other people. People who are prettier than we are, funnier than we are, have things we don’t have, do things we can’t do, have more money, drive a fancy car, have a bangin’ body, have more success, go on vacations..you get the idea. You already know what I am talking about it. We are all guilty of doing this at some point or another. It is so bad for us yet we do it all the time. But why? Is it because we aren’t satisfied with what we have? Is it because we want more but aren’t motivated enough to do anything about it? It probably has a lot to do with social media these days if you ask me. Everyone’s lives appear so perfect when you only see their highlight reel. Proverbs 4:23 says ” Above all, be careful what you think because your thoughts control your life.” If we applied this daily, we would stop stealing our own joy from ourselves. If we are constantly comparing ourselves to other people and wanting what they have, it makes us lose our sense of self and who God made us to be. Remember, God rewards those who are faithful with the gifts they are given. It’s not about what you have or you don’t have, it’s what you do with what you have that’s important.

Stop complaining.

I seriously wish I could go back in time and kick my younger, childish self in the rear end..all thanks to Facebook memories and TimeHop. I didn’t realize how negative and whiny I was until this cute little feature became available. I wish I knew how complaining would get me no where. It just drug out a super long and super sad process of nothingness. Instead, I wish I would have thought of it as what kind of lesson God was trying to teach me or tried practicing being grateful for what I did have over what I didn’t. I catch myself a lot these days falling into old patterns where I focus on everything that’s going wrong. This step is hard but if you practice on even the tiniest things that make you happy and how many of them there actually are, it gets easier to stop focusing on all the negative. Trust the process and remember not to beat yourself up about it.

Discover your why.

Finding your why gives you reason for everything. So I’ll cut straight to the chase here…my children saved me. That’s not to say the family or friends I have or my husband didn’t, they did but only to a certain extent. Those people gave me meaning to keep going but my children gave me my purpose to keep living.

My mother’s mom, whom I never met, left my mom when she was six years old. She chose to be selfish and do…whatever she did after she left without ever looking back or questioning her decision. Even when my mom tried to give her the opportunity to meet my brother and I when we were born, she wasn’t interested.

When everything happened with my mother, I couldn’t help but blame this person who I should have been able to call my grandmother. It’s like she set up this really screwed up domino effect. After my mother passed away, there I was, the next domino in line. It only made sense that I would be broken since the two generations of women who I should have been able to admire and learn from were both quitters.

And then I had my babies. I thought I knew love when I said I do, I thought I knew love when I had positive pregnancy tests, I thought I knew love when I felt their little flutters in my tummy..but it wasn’t until they laid them on my chest and I got to look in their eyes and see what my purpose in life was. My girls. My husband and I reconnected on a level like we hadn’t in a long time and it has been so beautiful and life altering. We both needed them more than they think need us.

They’re my why. They’re my reason for everything. For standing up every time I fall, for pushing through all the hard times, for bettering myself mind and body, for working to be successful with my businesses and for fighting my anxiety and depression like my life depends on it. Because it does matter. I matter. I never want my girls to know the kind of hurt I’ve felt. I never want them to know what it’s like to have a mama who gave up on them. It stops with me. I’m worth it and you are too.

 

 

 

 

Honey, You Have Your Hands Full.

Before I became a mother, I didn’t know just how much effort it took to leave the house. I didn’t know how easily a bedtime routine could take an hour..maybe two. I also didn’t know that fixing the food that my children asked for often turns into one of the biggest arguments of the entire day.  The amount of laundry to be done, the amount of groceries to be bought, the amount of coffee or Red Bull to survive on a daily basis or the discovery of what little sleep you actually need to survive. I’m sure the list is continuing in your mind of all the things you have taken on when you became a mama.

It’s a lot. I think we can all agree on that. At the end of every day, it’s still one of the most rewarding things in life. Their smile, their giggles, their canaille little ways of getting into everything..even our hearts. All worth it.

One of the things I don’t think I was completely prepared for was doing a lot of this own my own with my husband. You’re probably reading this saying, ‘ well duh, Christen, what else did you think?’ For a lot of my close friends and family, you already know my story. You know that my husbands parents and my mother were called home to be with the Lord, while my Dad lives 200 miles away in the hometown I grew up in. I’m thankful he is still alive and can be here within three hours if I ever need. I try not to abuse that option but when it’s necessary, he’s here just as quick as he can. So, what I mean by ‘my husband and I doing this on our own’ is, we literally do this on our own. And while I don’t want to throw my husband under the bus, he is also a fireman and a small business owner. He’s gone a lot. Not complaining, it’s just a part of our life. But with that said, majority of the things fall on my shoulders. It’s just a lot and there are very few breaks. That’s all I really know to say.

You know those moments when you’re trying to bus your children around and you try to walk in to a building and someone is walking out of the door you need to go into and they say,” You have your hands full?” and then they just keep walking and the door slams shut and they keep walking? With a baby on your hip, a diaper bag over one shoulder and a toddler trying to break free from the death grip of your mama bear hands? Oh, come on..you know those moments I am talking about. It’s happened to you too, you know it has. I’d like to pretend that people aren’t that rude but it’s happened to me quite a few times. But then there’s other times when those sweet little old ladies or even fellow mama’s who just see you and hold that door open even if you’re a mile away. I love you people. You are proof that God hears me when I am struggling. When I finally make it to the door, they usually follow up with that key phrase,” Oh darlin’, you have your hands full!”

Is it just me or does that phrase rub you the wrong way too? I have heard that phrase hundreds of times and every time I heard it, I would literally feel raged inside, even more so when that door would slam shut right in front of me. I have had to get myself in check quite a few times after this would happen because it would literally bring me to tears.

You see, I know my hands are full. They’re not telling me anything I do not know. Especially since my husband is gone a lot for work. So again, it leaves a lot on me. I know my hands are so undeniably full that I tend to slip and fail my children, my husband, God, my other relationships and most importantly myself, daily. Y’all, I seriously had to get myself in check because every single time someone said those five little words to me, it would send me over the edge. And bless all those little old ladies and all the other strangers hearts..it’s not their fault. They don’t know what a harmless little phrase like that does to me and they don’t have to. It’s my problem, not theirs. It just goes way beyond what they see on the surface. On the outside I appear to be juggling a tiny circus with my bare hands but little do they know just how much more I am struggling on the inside.

So, the question is…how did I deal with this? How did I move forward and stop making this phrase bother me to the core? I found my answer one day just trying to see the upside of the situation. There I was trying to get inside a store while chasing squirrels and..surprise, surprise, someone comes along and says that magical little phrase to me as they were walking ahead of me. Instead of smirking and saying yeah or I’ve got it..I actually startled myself as I said the words,” You should see my heart.” The look on their face was priceless.

So now, that’s my go to phrase in response to those five little words that used to upset me. Without fail, every stranger stops and usually has something admirable to say about it. Not only are my hands full but my heart is full too. And just like that, they also hold the door open for my tiny circus. Everybody wins and everybody has a great day. And now, I can appreciate that sweet little saying again.