Happiness Review: Buy Some Happiness

Money is a tough subject for many. I am not a saver. I wish I was better. I am not horrible. I have learned a lot and have come a long way from the Express/GAP/The Limited credit card days back in college. I paid them off and closed them up a few years into college as I quickly realized that it was better that way. I will tell you though, those clothes made me happy. Good quality clothes make me happy. They last a long time. I had work pants (and still have one pair) that were 10 years old.

I am a firm believer that you can happiness…to an extent. One has to be relatively happy with life otherwise the bought happiness is going to be short lived.

Here are a few splurges that have made me happy in the past:

1. My old Honda. It was extremely reliable and I hardly had to pay for maintenance on it.

2. My Apple products. I have had two iPods and used them all of the time. It is just in the past 6 months that I do not use my most current one. My new iPhone now has enough storage to listen to so much of my music. It is more convenient. I will tell you, I am an iPhone girl, sorry other great products out there. iPhone just has it made with its simplicity and easy to use products.

3. Nickel and Suede earrings. The colors and comfort bring me joy. I have been wearing them for three years and can’t imagine the day they may go out of style. I continue to get compliments on them almost on a daily basis.

4. My book collection. Walking around Barnes and Noble makes me relaxed, excited about the stories I have access to and the learning ahead of me.

For the month of July I was extra cautious of where our money went. It was difficult at the end to see where it went as we had bought the majority of the clothes and supplies the kids needed for school, oh my, that adds up. I don’t know how families do it when they do not have the “hand me downs” we have been blessed with. I know we appreciate it and we pass along what is still in good condition onto others as well.

Gretchen Rubin laid out the month as the following:

Indulge in a modest splurge

Buy needful things

Spend out

Give something up

My modest splurge was one that I do 2-3 times a year. I stock up on Young Living Essential Oils that I use often. Deep Relief we realized works well on mosquito bites. We started to go through that one like crazy. It is one I leave in my purse at all times for my tension headaches. I finally was able to get Peace and Calming back into my hands and the Valor roller ball. I have never had Valor. Let me tell you, for the bit of anxious feeling I have each morning getting ready for the day, it has helped immensely.

As I took my weekly trips to Target for groceries and other needed items I steered clear of the woman’s clearance section. This helped me be mindful of only buying needed things and I would say that this was the “give something up item” she challenged me with too. It is too easy to see that yellow sale sticker and throw it in the cart. Now, I did not give that up for the girls. As seasons change I constantly comb through their section in preparation for the next year. I think I will continue to challenge myself to walk left instead of right when I enter into Target. This will help me bypass the cheap but stylish clothes they have merchandised to catch my eye.

She talked of spending out. This was basically telling us to not hold on to things for the “perfect” day. Use things, they will bring you joy, or else they just bring you clutter. I would say I am fairly good at this task anyways. Maybe not in regards to cute cards I find and hold onto until I need to send that special person a little note.

It was a good month. I continue to enjoy each month’s challenge! Check out the blog for other posts that talk about past month’s happiness challenges.

Summer Smiles & Silliness

A couple of months ago while I was reading my Happiness Project book and the Girl, Wash Your Face book I was reminded and challenged to act like a kid and have some more fun. I almost didn’t go out onto the boat with my family and friend who was visiting. Ugh, I reminded myself, go, you will have fun. “Take your book” my hubby said, “you can sit, relax and read”. Yeah right, I thought. My kids are not great swimmers, being on the boat makes me a nervous Nelly, even with their life jackets on. I went. And guess what? I had fun! Stella even said “you are just like a kid today mom”! I was genuinely relaxed and having fun. I swam around and around without a life jacket. Enough to count it as exercise I supposed. And I had a smile on my face the whole time. Practice. Life takes practice. Having fun should not take practice, but relaxing and genuinely having fun does for me. Here is to more practice! It was well worth it! I was happy. Hubby was thankful I went out. The kids loved it.

Friday Favorites: The Magic of Motherhood

I will soon be adding this to my list of books I have read in 2018. I am half ways done and feel I need to add this as one of my Friday Favorites. I picked his book up a couple of months ago and just started to read it a week ago. In the introduction of The Magic of Motherhood Ashlee Gadd says “this is the book I wish I had received as a new mother”. I agree 100%. I am not certain I will have a lot of friends become first time moms from here on out. If I do though, this will be the gift I present to them. I have laughed, I have cried, I have said “oh my goodness, me too”. After having both children breakdown tonight by 6:45, I felt exhausted and like I have failed at raising well behaved kids. Now, I know better. They are well behaved kids. I have not failed. They were the ones exhausted. This book makes me feel human. It makes me feel like there is magic in this world of being a mom.

June Happiness Review: Friendship

I have been following Gretchen Rubin’s Happiness Project for 6 months now. June was the month to focus on friendships. Friends make me happy, there is no doubt about it. I have the best friends. They ease any anxiety I have with life, they listen to my troubles, offer me advise, and provide me with enough laughs to hold me over to the next time I see them. They are caring and loving. All of them I don’t see nearly enough, but we all understand that we have families and this thing called life. We know will see each other when our schedules allow.

Gretchen’s suggestions of focus were the following:

Remember Birthdays

Be Generous

Don’t Gossip

Make 3 new friends

Show Up

Let’s talk about birthdays. Facebook is a great way to stay on top of birthdays, if you check it daily, which I don’t. I am a bit old fashion when it comes to remembering birthdays. I have a “Birthday Calendar” that is pinned up in our kitchen. There have been the occasions that I miss a friend’s birthday. This makes me feel awful. I really strive to get a card out in the mail, give a call or send a text depending on the schedule of the day/week. I am trying to be better at picking up the phone to give a ring, but it never fails that as I pick up the phone, my kids are at my feet asking for something. At least a text appears as an “uninterrupted” form of communication. *Smile*

Be generous, “one of the best ways to make yourself happy is to make other people happy” Gretchen wrote. I love sending the random gift, or card in the mail. Finding birthday gifts are fun, but I thoroughly enjoy the unexpected find at random times and sending it on. I have a friend at work that drops a little something off at my desk on days that she gathers may be a bit hectic. It puts a smile on my face and I know it makes her heart happy too.

Don’t gossip. Gossiping has never done anyone any good. It’s hard to do. I feel like I am not a gossiper, but I have found myself in discussion with people about other people. At times it is hard to know if it is healthy venting, purely innocent conversation or if it borders gossip. I was extra mindful of these questions this month. I removed myself from conversation or would try to quiet the topics discussed.

Make new friends. It is hard to make new friends in your thirties. I know it can be done, but my life is busy! I enjoy meeting and connecting with new people. Life will alter where this can be done again. The way I worked this one into my Happiness Project was to spend more time with friends I have not seen in awhile, or spent time with them on the phone if they lived far away. How comforting it is to be surrounded by those people that can pick up like no time has passed!

Show up. If you are my friend I will bend over backwards for you! I will do whatever I can to support you and help you. You are my lifeline and I hope to be yours!

Thank you to my friends, you have been through me through thick and thin!

Six Years Ago

This time six years ago I was having lunch by myself at Applebee’s. I had just left my final doctor appointment with T before Stella arrived. She was a week overdue. That morning the doctor explained they wanted me back at the hospital later that afternoon. They would do something to see if the baby would come on it’s own, if nothing happened overnight they would induce me the next day, June 9th, my 30th birthday. What a bunch of emotions I was having as I sat there by myself. T had to go back to work to wrap things up as it was year end. It was the spring where it was hotter than normal, this made me extra uncomfortable. I was ready to have a baby, we didn’t know if it would be a Stella or an Everette. We were excited to find out, but things were about to change.

That evening we ate licorice, played cribbage and watched the Twins as nurses came and went. I hardly slept. Too excited and nervous. All I remember of the day, my 30th birthday, was showering up, the uncomfortable epidural, and then rolling from side to side. I really don’t remember the contractions, I feel like I was in a fog all day. I do remember just wondering when “it was going to happen”. As we were nearing the end of the night, I remember the nurse saying I had finally dilated enough to get excited…and then they checked again and they realized they were wrong. I distinctly recall the disappointment. I then got sick to my stomach and pretty much ended up in the operating room for a c-section. One of the nurses had really cool shoes on and for some reason I remembered this, even to the point where I recalled her when she came into the clinic where I worked months later. Leave it to me to remember something like that. *smile* They told me it was a girl, she finally arrived and appeared to be healthy. T got to go be with her. I went to recover and felt like I passed out. My birth story was not how I visioned it to be. I don’t know if many are. I didn’t have a birth plan per say, but I wished for the baby to come without being induced, and knew from my research that I would try for no epidural unless I was induced. Ideally, I just wanted us all to be healthy and have God surround us and our medical staff. Recovery was a little longer than expected, a few extra days in the hospital to make sure I was healthy and strong enough to go home. Here we are. Healthy, happy and blessed.

A Bear & Her Cubs

So…we saw a bear on the way to work yesterday morning by my house. It was in the middle of the road and hopped into the brush as we drove closer to it. So I know they are around our “neighborhood” yet. A friend and I decided to go for a walk tonight. We decide to not grab our phones, literally talked about the bears we hear are still around, and go on our merry way. It was a pleasant walk. Great company. Beautiful view. No bugs. Perfect temperature. On the way back, not a mile from my house, just up the road from where we are walking a momma bear crosses the road…and so do 4 cubs! I would not say we panicked, but we definitely didn’t know what to do. Do we walk back to the house we just passed and ask to use their phone? Do we continue on our walk? Do we run? No! We don’t run, that’s totally what one doesn’t do when they see bear, right!?!? Or…not!?!? We start to walk. We pass some horses and they don’t seem to be “normal”. Are they trying to tell us something? We hear something. We stop. We finally see a car. We feel better. I hear something else. It’s a pileated woodpecker. We walk more. We hear something else. We see a deer. We see another car, and another. *sigh, we are ok* We decide to run…not our intention for the evening, but yeah, we want to see our children. We want to see our happy, or whiney children…we just want to live to see our children. We keep looking behind us, no sign of the bear. We stop running. We are home. We survived. We may not go for a walk down that road again without the fear of seeing a bear and her cubs, and for sure, we won’t leave our phones behind again. Lesson learned. Next time, I hope we see more turtles!

Happiness Project: May Review

Be serious about play and leisure. That was my challenge for May. I was supposed to find more fun, take time to be silly, go off the path and start a collection. Oh goodness, most people would think this would be an easy month, but without looking ahead to the months to come, this may be the hardest. I like to think that I am fun to be around, but me being silly just doesn’t happen. I wish it was, I am in awe of people that are silly, like my sister, but it is a difficult task for me. Yes a task. I do have to take this time to pat myself on my back. We did have some unexpected and atypical hot temperatures for Bemidji for the month of May. We spent a day at a friend’s lake home. The girls had no problem jumping in the lake. A month prior it was pure ice, so you can maybe understand my reluctance to jump in after them. After an hour, I decided, what the heck, it is 90 degrees out, be the fun mom. Guess who had a lot of fun! Yep, that was me.

For the month I did try to focus on my free time and finding things to do that made me happy. For an example, T put up a fence last fall for a garden we wanted to make. It ended up bigger than we anticipated. I explained to him that it was added stress on me to have a garden that big. We scaled down the amount of things that were going to be planted. He brought in Stella’s help to plant the seeds and explained she was going to help water them each day. I love the idea of being organic and having our own garden, but the time I have available outside of family time and work is limited. I want to be able to work out, work on my blog, read books and just plain relax in the warm temperatures and sunshine. I made a mindful effort to not take on more than I can realistically and positively accomplish. I don’t like to be a failure. If I can’t do something well and up to my high standards, I don’t want to do it. It is added stress.

I am sure when Gretchen Rubin, author of the Happiness Project, said to go off of the beaten path she didn’t mean to stop doing something I love. She intended for me to seek something out that was out of my norm. I thought of something that I could try at the beginning of the month but couldn’t think of something new I was desiring. Before I knew it, the month was over *oops* I can share that I did end up not working out as much as I had the previous couple of months. Instead of my 6 day work outs/week I was like 3-4. Not bad, but I was feeling pretty good about the 6 day results. I also noticed that my anxiety/stress levels raised this month. Perhaps, the workouts were helping. Back to my dedicated workouts for June.

Starting a collection caught my attention, but along with starting a collection made me instantly think of clutter. Now, as I write this reflection, I think I could have thought of things that didn’t require clutter. I collect books and cookbooks. Those collections make me happy. I have always wanted to start a dream/motivation/inspiration board. That could have been my collection. It is never too late to start *smile*

Interested in finding out more about my Happiness Journey? Check out previous posts here:

January

February

March

April

Coffee and a Good Read- 2018

I am an avid reader. Here I will list the books I read during this year. I will provide a few words to describe my feelings of the stories told without giving away the book.

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler

Unforgettable love. Inter-racial struggle. Ahead of the times. A must read.

https://www.target.com/p/calling-me-home-target-club-pick-jan-2014-paperback-signed-edition-by-julie-kibler/-/A-14850406?ref=tgt_adv_XS000000&AFID=bing_pla_df&CPNG=PLA_Entertainment%2BShopping&adgroup=SC_Entertainment&LID=700000001230728pbs&network=s&device=m&querystring=calling%20me%20home%20book&gclid=[*GCLID*]&gclsrc=ds

Darker by E.L James

This is the 2nd book written through the eyes of Mr. Grey. Enlightening. Additional details. Further perspective.

https://www.target.com/p/darker-fifty-shades-darker-as-told-by-christian-paperback-e-l-james/-/A-53057835?ref=tgt_adv_XS000000&AFID=bing_pla_df&CPNG=PLA_Entertainment%2BShopping&adgroup=SC_Entertainment&LID=700000001230728pbs&network=s&device=m&querystring=darker%20book&gclid=[*GCLID*]&gclsrc=ds

Something Borrowed by Emily Giffen

Something Blue by Emily Giffen

One does not have to read both books and it does not matter which one is read first.

Lovable characters. Chic Lit at its best. Why did it take me so long to read her books?

https://www.target.com/p/something-borrowed-reprint-paperback-by-emily-giffin/-/A-11338498#lnk=sametab

https://www.target.com/p/something-blue-reprint-paperback-by-emily-giffin/-/A-13305904#lnk=sametab

See Me by Nicholas Sparks

Held my breath. Not your typical Nicholas Sparks book. Suspenseful love. Root for the underdog.

https://www.target.com/p/see-me-hardcover-by-nicholas-sparks/-/A-49168470#lnk=sametab

Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks

Artistic writing. Hopeful. Why do his books not get old?

https://www.target.com/p/two-by-two-paperback-nicholas-sparks/-/A-53420456#lnk=sametab

Still Me by Jojo Moyes

This is the third book in the series. Me Before You was a tear jerker. After You was good but Still Me made me feel whole again. A great follow up to the second one as I was left feeling a bit disappointed.

An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

This was my suggestion for the book club I was in. It is one of Oprah’s 2018 Book Club selection, but also one I kept seeing float across the Instagram account for Book of the Month. It had me at page 5 when one of the main characters references Love Jones, a movie I had on VHS back in the day. It has a soundtrack that I still frequently listen to. It is an emotional and intense read. I longed for it to be longer with more details of the love triangle that it is. Silver Sparrow did an excellent job with this piece of work.

Girl, Wash Your Faceby Rachel Hollis

Full book review here

The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna

Brief book review here.

Party Girl by Rachel Hollis

Read review here

Sweet Girl and Smart Girl by Rachel Hollis.

Here explains my love for these books.

Every Day by David Levithan

Book review here.

Another Day by David Levithan

My thoughts on the book are found here.

Cow Pie Memories

I love memories of my childhood. I was blessed with two loving parents and a fantastic little sister. I went to good schools, joined in activities that allowed me to be creative and was surrounded by loving and caring friends.

I get to relive my childhood each day with my two littles. Stella is a spitting image of me and Em, well she is “my little sister”. Stella’s class, along with the other kindergarten class, was invited to a farm in Bemidji. I just had to chaperone this field trip. See, my mom chaperoned my 1st grade field trip to my teacher’s farm when I was little. I have videos on a VHS tape that my mom filmed of this trip. I am huddled by my best friend, Jenny, getting grossed out by the Cow Pies that we could throw like frisbees. *gag*

The kids didn’t throw Cow Pies this time around, nor were the words uttered to the kids. The field trip though, was such a joy to my heart. It was a blessing. It brought smiles to my face, my heart and my brain. I saw Stella run around with her friends, she held hands with many of them and clearly enjoyed herself.

I imagine my mom having the same feelings 30 years ago. *ugh, 30 years ago*

I hope there are not many times in my future when I think of Cow Pies again, I imagine Em will go on this field trip in a year or so, but I do look forward to witnessing the girls surrounded by classmates and friends that help form them into the girls God wants them to be. Kind, caring, smart, strong and beautiful human beings.

Love Wins

We are in a time where we need constant reminders that Love Wins. This seems like it should be common sense, but why is it not? I believe that there are still more good people in the world than bad, but why is it that our kids have to learn ALICE training? Why is it that we have to worry about our kids’ safety at school of all places? It broke my heart to hear about the school shooting in TX. I was fortunate to spend the day with my daughter’s class on a field trip last week. Such innocence ran around the farmstead we visited. They are well aware of what to do if a bad person comes into their school. They know they are to throw any object at the bad guy and they know to take direction from the teachers that hopefully can protect them. To write this forces me to vision my kids in these situations and it causes instant anxiety, broken breathing and tears to form. This world has become a very scary place. We need to come together and end the violence. We need kids to have boundaries. The small troubled fish need to be stopped in their actions before they become big fish that are out of control. Innocent kids are being killed and being threatened in this great world we live in.

The shooting, in my opinion, was a bit overshadowed by the Royal Wedding. Don’t get me wrong, who doesn’t love a prince getting married, especially one as good looking and kind as Prince Harry? The sermon that was given at the wedding by Rev. Michael Curry was incredible. It spoke to me on so many levels. I pray that we continue to love. Again, Love Wins!

Words that won me over:

“We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love” … “And when we discover that, we will be able to make of this old world a new world”

“Imagine our governments and countries when love is the way”… “Imagine business and commerce when this love is the way … No child would go to bed hungry in such a world as that. Poverty would become history in such a world as that.”

Maybe Rev. Michael Curry didn’t intend to discuss love in the way he did at the Royal Wedding, but he had a large audience listening to him. Harry and Meghan seem to be very dedicated to making the world right again through love. It was a fitting sermon for them to hear along with those that tuned in. MAY LOVE CONQUER ALL.

Shirt: Old Navy