Chronically sick? Choose the right water filter.

Chronically sick? Choose the right water filter.

As a kid, I never thought about a water filter. Yet after being diagnosed with autoimmune diseases, I wouldn’t drink any water without one. How do I choose the right water filter? In this post, you’ll learn about drinking water and my journey of not submitting to bottled water. Plus you’ll understand what option is best for you and your family whether you live in the city or rural area.

Water has a lot to do with your health, in fact, water is life! If you’re not getting healthy clean water, you might be setting yourself up for autoimmune disease and other chronic health issues. If there is one physical gift that keeps on giving, it would be clean drinking water. It sounds kind of boring; after all, water is thought to be a commodity. However, pure clean water is not necessarily everywhere. Whether you live in the city, the countryside, or overseas, clean nutritious water is hard to come by. In our recent move from city water to well water, the drinking water became my #1 priority and it completely stressed me out. This situation is literally and physically taking a “challenge and creating light from it”…Simplify Firefly.

Water and your health, does it really matter?

Did you know that drinking water can affect your health? I’m not just talking about water-born bacteria like E. coli or Giardia; there are many other factors that affect water that can weaken our bones, disrupt our digestive systems, and even hurt our heart health. If you think about it there aren’t many choices for healthy, balanced water; treated water is full of chemicals, bottled water can leach estrogens or containments, distilled water can rob you of essential minerals, and well water can have harmful levels of iron, arsenic, and lead to name a few. Talk about stress! This was where I was when we moved.

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Water and my story

Water and I go way back. I now take it seriously and there are many reasons why I do. In college, drinking a lot of water helped me (tremendously) lose weight. Secondly, during my pregnancies, I got severely dehydrated due to HG which led me to get an IV multiple times. Thirdly, water is all I drink.

I grew up on city water, unfiltered. I drank it straight from the tap. In college, I drank it from the tap or drinking fountain. It wasn’t until 2007 when we decided to get a water filter. Before that time, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder in my liver, which then cascaded into other issues. Could it be that most diseases come from our water?

Now a day, my digestive system is a sensitive one, so I need to be careful what I put into my body or my body will flare up. Not to mention, dehydration comes on pretty quickly, and water is the only element that keeps me stable. I highly recommend you get your water tested. You can call your township or city and ask them how to do it. There are kits online, but I’d go the local route.

So what are we to drink?

As you know, our bodies can’t survive more than three days without water. Sure you can drink coffee, soda, juice, energy drinks, and such, but those can be toxic to your system and cause all sorts of other health problems. And yes, water detoxifies your body, gives you energy, helps you feel good (better mood), and so much more! But what are we to drink?

Many would answer this question with bottled water. Bottled water first came out in 1767 and has gotten increasingly popular ever since! With recent worldly events, bottled water has been life-saving. I drink bottled water occasionally and am extremely grateful to have it on hand. But not all bottled water is the same. At the store you’ll see many options of bottled water, if you’re a serious water drinker it can be overwhelming. Let’s look at the pros and cons of bottled water.

PROS:

  • It’s convenient
  • Works in a pinch
  • There are many options to suite your needs

CONS:

  • Can be expensive
  • Different pH levels
  • Chemicals and estrogens leaking into water from the plastic
  • Not 100% sure what the water source is
  • Could contain added ingredients
  • Hurts the environment if you don’t recycle

IBD Triggers

Water filter options besides bottled water

Some would argue that filtered water by a home water filter is the way to go. Yet, others are strictly from the tap. This is all personal preference, but the one that gives me confidence in what I’m drinking is from a home filtration system. What does this mean?

A home filtration system can mean a few things. It can mean refrigerator water, water filter pitcher, RO system, under the sink water filter, or a countertop water filter. Let’s briefly take a deeper look into some of these options.

Refrigerator filter

Some people thoroughly enjoy their refrigerator water filters. The water is instantly cold and easy to access. Just remember to change the filter.  

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Water filter pitcher

Another route is the filtered water pitcher. The water pitchers are popular and do a great job. If you don’t drink a lot of water every day I’d suggest the water pitcher. You can put it in the frig or keep it on the counter. This option is better than buying plastic jugs of water.

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Reverse Osmosis

If you want 100% pure water, you’ll want to check out the RO System. The Reverse Osmosis System completely takes out all chemicals, bacteria, minerals, and good minerals from the water, so you are only left with H2O. This water tastes amazing! However, RO water has a tendency to be more acidic, like around 5.5 pH to 6.0 pH. This is because it takes out those minerals that balance pH. There are mineral filters that connect to the RO system to help put minerals back into the water, but I’m not sure about their effectiveness…the reviews are not consistent. Not to be a wet blanket, but I’ve heard the pH filters can be fickle from going from one extreme to the other.

More about water pH

And what’s up with water pH? I had no idea the pH level of water was different, but it is! Some water is alkaline and others are acidic. Ideally, you want to be right in the middle of it all. If water is too acidic it can eventually lead to health problems. The same goes true with water that is too alkaline. In our new home, I bought a ph tester and had chemistry class on our kitchen counter. It was actually fun testing eight different glasses of water. What I found was that some bottled water was actually acidic! Yet with the three different types of water filters I had on hand: RO System, under sink Aquasuana, and countertop Berkey; the RO was acidic, Aquasana and Berkey were alkaline. I also tested our water softener water, well water, and other bottled water.

 

More water filter systems

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Under-the-sink filtration system

Yet, another route is to use an under-the-sink filtration system. We used this water filter system when we lived in the city, and we loved it! New filters were sent to us every 6 months, so we didn’t have to remember to get them. It’s super convenient and easy to use. This just gives you a little more peace of mind that your water is safe. We have been using Aquasana since 2007.

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Countertop filtered water

Countertop filtered water is yet another option for filtered drinking water. This water filter is gravity fed using carbon filters. It’s easy to use, looks cool, and can even filter pond water ready for you to drink! This water filter is a rock star, it filters all the bad stuff out but keeps the essential minerals our bodies need like calcium, magnesium, potassium. The ph level is where it should be, the 7.0 range. If you drink a lot of water every day and don’t like cold water, I would highly recommend the Berkey Water Filter System. You just have to remember to fill it.

So what one do I use on well water?

I asked this exact question when I moved into our country home and there wasn’t an easy answer. People around us all did different things. Bottled water was one, refrigerator water another (but I don’t like cold water), and water pitcher. It took me hours to figure out what one would be best for me. As I said before, water is the top beverage I consume each day. So if I’m drinking water with a lot of chemicals in it, then my body is getting a lot of chemicals. And with the health issues I have, my liver doesn’t need to work any harder than it needs to.

In our home, we have a water softener, and I frankly do not like drinking softened water. It’s a water-weight thing if you know what I mean. Soft water makes me bloated and I’m not a fan of excess sodium adding up in the body. So after many trials of different kinds of water filter systems, with softened water, without softened water, not to mention the different types of bottled water I tried, we finalized on a direct line from the well (non-softened water) to our drinking spigot on our kitchen sink; the drinking spigot goes through an under the sink water filter system, and then we filter it again with the Berkey. It’s a little complicated, I agree, but our well water is getting filtered twice yet leaving in those essential minerals our bodies need. I am a very happy camper and am at peace with our drinking water. And I feel great!

Water filter conclusion

Water makes a 100% difference in your health, hormones, mind, and inflammation. Do what is best for you, your body, and your mental wellbeing. Take your water seriously! My recommendations include:

#1 Get your water tested for containments, metals, and bacteria.
#2 Understand the pH level of your drinking water.
#3 Invest in a drinking water filter for you and your family.

For city water, I’ve found Aquasana under-the-sink unit or a Berkey to do the trick.

If you have well water, a combo of Aquasana under-the-sink and a Berkey works well.

Out camping? I recommend a Berkey.

In the dorm room…campus water isn’t the best…it’s a Berkey or a water filter pitcher.

All in all, the Berkey is the way to go.

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Cheers!

By CT Copyright © 2021 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

How to help your digestive system: 10 triggers to watch for.

How to help your digestive system: 10 triggers to watch for.

If there is one thing in how to help your digestive system it is to figure out what is causing the digestive issues. When it comes to gut cramping and rushing to the bathroom it’s usually a bad burrito and clears up in a few days on its own, but when the bowels howl longer than normal something needs more attention. In my own personal experience with IBD (Intestinal Bowel Disease) over the years and with hours upon hours of research, I’ve found 10 major triggers that can set people off. If I would have known these triggers earilier, I would have healed a lot faster. My hope is that this post will save you a lot of time and frusteration. Let’s take a look at what might be triggering your lingering symptoms so you can get on the right intestinal track.

Step 1 in how to help your digestive system

Ever since I started to talk about my own digestive distress, more and more people have opened up to me about theirs. Let’s face it, talking about cramps and diarrhea is not something people want to talk about, but these things DO need to be talked about. A huge part of healing is understanding what’s going on and why. Knowing this, not only gives you peace of mind, but a solid direction to focus on in your healing journey.  Discovering your cause can be a frustrating maze but it could be as simple as asking around and doing some research. You never know what someone is going to say that could be your ticket to healing.

Let me reiterate that when people are silent about their chronic digestive system it is only going to make them worse.  What ends up happening is despair, loss of hope, loneliness, and settling with chronic misery. Self-confidence goes down the drain and limitations in physical activity and social outings go on the wayside. You do not deserve to live like this!

Listen up, this is super important

Another thing about “ignoring’ this issue is that if left untreated, it will lead to other misery down the road; for instance, vitamin absorption problems, depression, stress, hair thinning, and more. I’ve been there, done that, with tears and frustration and a sink full of hair. There is nothing worse than not understanding what is going on and if you’ll ever get better! So please, listen up to how to help your digestive system if you want to get better.

I HIGHLY recommend reading the “Triggers and What to do for IBD: How to identify and heal for good” book. I wish I had this information when I was having problems. This book would have saved me LOADS of time and frustration. Download, read, and heal. It’s a quick read packed with answers that will help you.

Encouragement Coaching Moment

First off, you will get better. If you want it bad enough, you will go into remission and will live a life of no more cramping, no more rushing to the bathroom, and no more uncertainty. The work it takes to heal is totally worth it. It is possible to manage this thing without having to take any pharmaceuticals! The body will heal if you help it.

Your healing journey begins with this

My journey has been quite a road. I am not a doctor or gastroenterologist, but I have experienced firsthand what it’s like to carry colitis and all that goes with it. With an un-relentless drive to figure it out, I’ve tried many different treatments and have spent hours and hours researching (probably too much time) in getting to the bottom of my imbalance. After all, when something isn’t right, things aren’t aligned. So this bullcrap all starts with what threw you off in the first place.

How to help your digestive system starts with questions.

Ask yourself the following questions and maybe even jot down your answers on a piece of paper. I have kept a “digestive journey” journal where I write down my flares, what might have happened before it, and what I tried to manage it. Answer these questions to help you figure your digestive issues out.

Was I recently sick? Stomach bug? Food poisoning? Bacteria infection?

What are my hormones doing?

Did I eat something funny? Eat too much of something? Eat the same thing every day?

Have I been taking NSAIDs (ibuprofen, Tylenol, etc) on a regular basis?

Has my gallbladder been acting up? Do I still have my gallbladder?

What is my stress level been these days?

What exactly am I eating everyday?

Is my back out of whack?

Answering these questions might help you get on the right track from the get-go. It’s important to go over these things with your doctor or functional doctor before diving into a treatment plan.

A closer look at digestive triggers

Let’s take a closer look at what could be the cause of your cramps, bloating, diarrhea, loose stools, and stinky gas. When you have a flare, it is usually caused by a trigger. For instance, when I get a flare I can usually figure out what brought it on. Most of the time it was something I ate. But other times it’s been hormones, stress, or even a change in weather or time zones. The body is so amazing when it comes to healing; it wants to be aligned and working as it should. When it’s not, it tells you through pain or digestive distress. Let’s look at a few things that could be causing the alarms to go off.

Again, I’m not a doctor, nor am I trying to be. I share the information I have either experienced myself or am extremely interested in, and then I keep things simple and give you the nutshell version. This post is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult your physician before jumping into new things. This post is for information purposes only and to help you figure out what you might have going on.

IBS

What is IBS anyway? IBS, or Irritable Bowel Syndrome, is simply an angry bowel. For instance, when I was a runner I would occasionally get really bad “poop cramps”, this is what IBS is, cramps out of the blue followed by urgency. With my story, the doctors first diagnosed me with IBS, since I knew what IBS was, I had a hard time respecting their diagnoses. Come to find out what I learned through the years is that if doctors can’t diagnose your digestive problem, they’ll usually say it’s IBS. When I went back to the doctor’s office I asked for a colonoscopy which gave us the real answer. So stick with your gut when you go to the doctor and ask a lot of questions; if they say it’s IBS, ask them why they think so.

Food sensitivities: dairy, gluten, eggs, soy, grains, white sugar, fructose.

Food sensitivities are HUGE triggers that lead to digestive system issues. The number one ‘problem food’ is dairy. So many people have issues with dairy; in fact, I heard everyone is a little sensitive to dairy. Lactose intolerant or sensitivity to whey or casein (a protein found in milk) are a few roadblocks to dairy digestion.

The second big one is gluten. Gluten is the protein found in wheat. People who have Celiac disease cannot have any gluten. Most people with digestive issues steer clear of gluten as well. This bugger is hard to digest and wreaks havoc on your innards. Talk about inflammation! It’s just not worth it folks.

Other popular food sensitivities and allergies are nuts, eggs, soy, white sugar, nightshades, and fructose.

How do you know if you have a food sensitivity?

Pay attention to how you feel after you consume it. Do you have a headache? Is your skin itchy or throat? Heartburn? Do you have gas cramps within an hour of eating? Dizzy? How about your nose, is it runny? What about severe congestion? Are you rushing to the bathroom?

Hormones: can’t live with them, can’t live without them.

This is a tough one to figure out. Hormones play a factor in digestion? Women get a chance to pay close attention to our system every month (if we’re still menstruating). Both progesterone and prostaglandins can mess with your bowels. Even though prostaglandins focus on your uterus, they can also affect the colon that is nearby. Plus our friend, Progesterone, can pilot our trip to the bathroom more often.

On the flip side, when estrogen declines, cortisol rises, which can slow the digestion process down and cause constipation…a.k.a. too little progesterone. Without the proper balance of estrogen and progesterone, your bowels get a bit confused.

Alignment

Who knew that a kink in your back could cause issues in digestion and elimination. The vertebrae in your spine are connected to nerves that send signals to the digestive system which includes the stomach and intestines. When the vertebrae are off or twisted this can affect those nerves and give you symptoms like bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, and bladder issues. Before you head to the chiro, talk to your doctor or physical therapist.

A bug

There are some pesky bugs out there. Bacterial infections, viruses, and parasites, all of these cause inflammation. And when inflammation is present and not calmed down, irritation of the intestinal lining is sure to happen. E-coli, Guardia, Norovirus, and the stomach bug are the main culprits of diarrhea, not to mention vomiting. Yes, even though these are short-lived 1-7 days on average, they can mess up your gut flora and cause silent inflammation in your digestive tract. 

gluten-free granola bars

How to help your digestive system? Reduce stress

Constant stress on the body and mind can be a doozy for your digestion. It can throw your whole system off! From muscle tightness, knots in your gut, to indigestion, stress can physically hurt you. One thing you can do right now in answering the question of how to help your digestive system is to learn some stress-relieving techniques.

Ibuprofen/Tylenol

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) like acetaminophen and ibuprofen if taken on a regular basis can actually cause inflammation in your intestines. Yep. Too much of a good thing can backfire. This is true for anything, even food! When inflammation is present, cramps and diarrhea are sure to show up.

Lack of probiotics and digestive enzymes

Sometimes our bodies need a little help getting back on track. Probiotics and/or digestive enzymes are here to save the day. Getting the right bugs in your gut makes a big difference in your digestive health; a game-changer for most folks. The hard part is figuring out what probiotics or digestive enzymes you’re lacking. This is especially important if you’ve been on a regimen of antibiotics. Antibiotics kill everything in your gut, so it’s important to get your gut back up and running as it should. Incorporating probiotics after your antibiotic treatment will help you bounce back a little quicker.

Probiotics may need to be taken every day depending on your condition. The added bonus is they also help your immune system and even skin.

If you have heartburn or stomach acid issues please read my post about stomach acid, it goes more in-depth about digestive enzymes and food combining, you will get a digestive enzyme chart as well!

Bile acid

This sounds kind of gross but excess bile acid from your digestive system can cause diarrhea. Bile acid diarrhea (BAD) or bile acid malabsorption (BAM) is what can cause that urgency, watery, and bloating feeling. Bile acids are produced by your good ole liver and stored in your gallbladder. Their job is to help break down fats to put it simply. For people who have had their gallbladder removed, you may experience a bit of diarrhea…at least now you know why. However, sometimes the body can get confused and cause large amounts of bile acids to exit into the large intestine, hence, diarrhea. Normally there is very little bile acid in the large intestine. I highly recommend you continue to investigate this; check out Verywellhealth.com for starters.  

Yeast

Where do we start with yeast? Is it good or bad? Well, if you get too much of it, it can trigger diarrhea. Along with yeast-associated diarrhea, you may see other signs of too much yeast by looking at your tongue. If it has a white coat on it, you probably have more yeast than you need. You could also have sinus infections, fatigue, and skin fungal issues. The medical term for an overabundance of yeast is Candida. Check out Dr. Axe about Candida.

In conclusion: how to help your digestive system

WHEW! That was a lot to take in. But how to help your digestive system is no joke. From my personal experience, I wish I had this post in my hands when it all started in me. Again, I can’t tell you how many hours I researched diarrhea. I’ve probably clocked as many hours as a gastroenterologist. Anyway, healing is possible, but you must want it to happen. And if you really want it bad enough, you’ll be able to manage it without drugs and their nasty side effects. You got this. Healing takes time so keep moving forward. To help you get started in healing your gut I wrote this mini book: Triggers and What to do for IBD: How to Identitfy and Heal for Good. It only takes a few minutes to read, but could contain your path to healing! Download it for under $5.

Please note: talk to your doctor or find a functional doctor before you jump into anything new. If you want to go the natural way without prescriptions, I’ve had success with a functional doctor.

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By CT Copyright © 2022 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved
Drama Free Life? A Strategy You Don’t Want to Miss.

Drama Free Life? A Strategy You Don’t Want to Miss.

How to live a drama free life sounds dreamy. But in a world that is dominated by drama; pandemic, racial injustice, a shaky economy, broken homes, and anxiety-filled minds, how do we navigate through all this? Right now is a great time to pull out your secret weapon to fight drama and kick it to the curb. Learn how to access your boxing gloves and how to use them effectively every day. You’ll be surprised how much simpler life gets and enjoyable.

Mental breakdown

If you look at what’s on TV, YouTube, and in theaters, you wouldn’t be surprised by the health of our world. The shows these days are negative, scary, or full of things I don’t even want to see. Call me old-fashion, but for my mental state of being, I already have a bunch of stuff going on in my head and prefer to put positive things into it. With our daily dose of drama from our kids, spouse, extended family, and even ourselves things can build up and break down. What do we do? First and foremost, say “no” to drugs. We can achieve peace without the added side effects.

My go-to for cleaning my head out

When there is too much going on in my head I usually grab a piece of copy paper and write down ALL the things on my mind and categorize them in different departments. This is the first step to a drama free life. Just do it. Don’t give me or yourself excuses of why you can’t take five minutes and write things out. By doing this, it gives you a visual of what you have going on in there, plus you can strategize on how to tackle it. This technique usually does the trick, but sometimes the unsettledness lingers.

My enlightenment to a drama free life, who knew?

As I was listening to my daily devotional, the pastor talked about something that helped explain why I was feeling so overwhelmed. It was something I didn’t think of and that’s what I want to share with you.

Personal values do what?

Did you ever think personal values had a role in our serenity? I used to think personal values were like jewels in a black velvet bag; you learn them when you’re young and then carry them around with you. BUT don’t you dare get them out and use them because they’re valuable. Did I sure have that backward.

It had been a while since I opened my bag of personal values. Let’s face it, I’m an adult, and values are taught when we are children, right? Not so, those are morals. Morals are beliefs that are taught to us. Think of morals as “acceptable” acts. Parents usually teach morals to help a child determine what is right and wrong. Personal values come from within; they define what is important to us and help us make the right decisions that align with our hearts. When personal values are used correctly we ultimately experience happiness with our decisions.

Ahem. There is no better time than now to review your personal values. For me and Mr. Silent Chaos, my personal values had to intervene to save the day, along with some Bible verses of course. When our values align with our decisions, life is SO much easier and happier.

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How could something so simple have such a big impact?

The first month of the year or around your birthday is a GREAT time to revisit your values. And that’s what I did on my birthday, I took a minute and grabbed my values exercise, and reviewed what I wrote down as my core values. During the exercise, I realized some values had changed and that was probably one of the causes of drama. When we understand WHY we’re making certain decisions, we understand ourselves better and can move forward by making the right decision for our sanity.

After my values exercise, my mind felt clearer and cleaner. It felt like getting new running shoes, I was ready to run hours on end. At this point, I could now go back and look at my paper where I wrote everything down and organize it according to my values.

If you’re at a point where ‘simplifying your life’ sounds like heaven, then sharpen your pencil. Drama isn’t welcome in my home anymore. In fact, if I can keep myself in line with my values and speak God’s word, then the enemy doesn’t have a foothold on me. Fight back with what the Lord put in you, use your personal values.

“If you watch your life, you’ll be amazed at how many times a week Satan launches an attack against you for the sole purpose of stealing your peace. When I finally saw that, God said to me in my spirit, “Joyce, if the devil wants your peace that badly, then there must be something pretty powerful about being peaceful.”

– Joyce Meyer

Download my personal values exercise now. Here are some great verses to fight off the enemy, I highly recommend memorizing these. Get full access to all my freebies here. Our world needs you to be your best to beat this beast of a year.

By CT Copyright © 2020 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

13 Ways to Naturally Help the Winter Blues

13 Ways to Naturally Help the Winter Blues

Come January and February the winter blues are upon us, but they don’t have to be. According to Cleveland Clinic having the “winter blues” is actually normal. You’re totally fine to feel a little down during the colder months. They refer to it as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Um, yeah, I know I get it. No matter where we live we’re bound to crave sunlight. 

What can we do about it?

Here are the best 13 ways to naturally reduce the ‘winter blues’. I go from the most common to the most unique. My personal favorites are #9 and #13.

1- Get Outside…even if it’s cloudy.

2- Open up the shades and pullback the curtains.

Increase the amount of sunlight in your home. Open the shades and curtains. This is so incredibly healthy for your mind and wellbeing. In fact, this is probably one of my biggest pet peeves. It will be a beautiful day outside and I’ll go visit a friend and they will have their blinds or curtains closed. Listen, people, you’re missing out on a lot of good stuff and entertainment from nature.  Open the d@#n shades!

3- Take Vitamin D

Taking vitamin D3 also reduces upper respiratory infections.

4- Exercise

Who cares if it’s cloudy and gray outside! Bundle up and get out there. A bit of fresh air does a body and soul good.

5- Set a sleep schedule

When you’re on a sleep schedule, your body will naturally flow with it. It takes a little time, but within a week or two, you should be feeling the positive effects.

Psalm 46:5
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6- Look at what you’re eating.

Change up your diet and eat more Omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, walnuts, flax seeds), berries, dark chocolate, and bananas are beneficial too. Source: Healthline.

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7- Try Light Therapy

Light therapy also helps, but talk to your doctor first. There are a few lights to look at on Amazon. Here’s one that’s inexpensive to try: Miroco Light Therapy Lamp.

6 More Fun Things to Calm the Winter Blues

8- Add plants to your indoors

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Some other fun things we can do to brighten our blue months (January and February) is to bring green plants into your living space. Having plants, even if they’re fake, gives off a fresh feel to the room. Try putting a houseplant or two in your kitchen. If you don’t do well with plants, and what I mean is keeping them alive, head to your favorite hobby store or hop on Amazon and pick up some fake greens.

9- Light it up inside!

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Move your Christmas lights from your tree to other areas of your home. I have a fake tree in my kitchen; year-round I put a string of white lights on it and turn them on in the evening and early morning. In our basement, I have a string of lights on my fireplace mantel. A few lights can go a long way! If you don’t like the typical dark green string, get the white! You can find them on Amazon.

10- Turn your nose on

Fill your home with lovely smells. Honestly, I don’t know what it is about the smell of banana bread baking, but it brings warm hugs to my soul. Chicken soup does the same thing. Whatever your childhood favorite smell, make that smell happen!

11- Get into nature…with your ears

Play nature sounds. There are a lot of great nature sounds you can download. My personal favorites are the ones with birds, something that mimics my backyard in the warmer months. If the ocean is your favorite spot, tune into the sounds, and close your eyes.  

12- Embrace the season

Welcome the stillness of the winter. Every year I find myself craving time alone when it’s snowing outside. Since I live in Michigan we get our share of snow. The snow has this magical way of quieting life down. One of my favorite places to be in winter is sitting in the snowbank at night…especially if it’s snowing!

13- Warm up the bones

Don’t forget to warm up your bones. If there is ever any sunshine, grab a camp chair and camp out in front of the window or door where the sunbeams shine through. I did this just the other day and my soul immediately felt better. No sun? Try your fireplace. No fireplace? Light a candle. No candles? Take a hot bath. No bathtub? A cup of hot chocolate or tea works too…with a pair of cozy socks.

Victory over the Winter Blues

Let’s beat the winter blues at its game. Shine light where you can and warm up your soul using all your senses. Be aware of your surroundings and how you can change them. You got this!

By CT Copyright © 2021 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

The Best Daily Planner for Teens Ever! What to look for.

The Best Daily Planner for Teens Ever! What to look for.

Planners aren’t just for adults, teens need them too! Get a daily planner for teens today and teach them how to manage their time and to develop this amazing skill.

In the 1700s the planner was invented by your very own Benjamin Franklin. And in 1984 the Franklin Planner was brought to our eyes thanks to Richard I. Winwood. One of our most valuable things on this planet is our time. How we plan our minutes determines the outcome of our lives. Let me be bold: No one is to blame, except for you, on how you use your time. A planner is a great tool to help you guide your teen in planning their days, know what to look for and make this year a great one.

best planner ever what to look for

Two things that need to happen for a productive life

For you to experience an amazing, productive life there are two things that need to happen. The first is to know yourself to the best of your ability. When you understand who you are and where you want to go in life, directing your time becomes a little easier. And when your time is managed the way you like it, you are at peace. Understanding your identity isn’t an easy thing, we are ever-changing beings. I’ll give you some tips in a minute.

The second thing that needs to happen is for you to have a plan, at least something to go by. As we all know, we can plan all we want, but the Lord directs our steps. Wandering aimlessly is straight-up stressful. Try traveling without a map…this includes your phone navigation. Think about a time when you were lost. Do you remember how that made you feel? Is lost, the source of all stress? Hmm. Yet, there is one thing that keeps on ticking, time.

Teens and tweens struggle with time management, it’s okay, managing time is a skill they need to develop. The other thing that needs to happen in life is encouragement and positivity. I created a daily planner for teens to do just this. To focus on the good things, to give encouragement, inspire, and to speak truth into their hearts.

Identity, how it orchestrates our day

Understanding identity is a HUGE thing right now. People are exploring what they like, who they like, what they believe in, etc. Identity is a controversial topic because it involves all the things people get mad about race, religion, sex, politics, vaccines… The crazy part is that we all want to be liked, so in some weird ways, we go along with the crowd even when we don’t want to. This creates a whole different ball of twine and a blog post, but my point is for us to understand who we are.

As the Bible says, we are to not conform to the pattern of this world, but instead, to be transformed by the renewing of our mind, for then we will be able to test God’s will for our life, his perfect, pleasing, and goodwill (Romans 12:2). In other words, seek your Creator to understand who He made you be, then you will understand where you should go.

Simple Planner
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That was some fun theology, this is not to discourage you, this is to encourage you. Because when you think you have to do this life alone, that you need to figure everything out yourself, and you have to make every minute count, not to mention, keeping up with what everyone else is doing…give it to our Mighty God in Heaven. Ask Him, your Heavenly Father, to help you, direct you, open your eyes, and protect you. He will. I guarantee it!

Planner plan

In 2020, we faced a dead stop in life with the COVID pandemic. The time came to a screeching halt. Many of us went bananas, others went on an extended mental vacation. There were many things we learned while being at home, some things we didn’t want to know like how lonely we were, how much we depended on others, and how much we needed “me” time. Getting sick wasn’t the only fear going on, knowing what to do with our time competed for first place. To help you with your time there is one thing you can invest in: a planner.

As 2021 came to be, life seemed completely the opposite of 2020. There was a new super speed! Traffic got heavy, people got rude, and many of us tried to fit as much as possible into our days. Were we trying to make up for time lost during the year before? Did we have different priorities? The year 2021, was a transition year and we were trying our hardest to get back to “normal” as much as possible. And now we’re all cranky and have headaches. My planner was definitely full, yet it was a true life-saver in staying sane. 

What to look for in a planner

There are a lot of planners out there that not only address our day-to-day, but they also have journal prompts and inspiring quotes, etc. Planners have come a long way since the 1770s; in fact, planners started out as journals. However, depending on your needs, we should be careful of what kind of planner to get; some can be time-consuming, stressful to keep up with, and distracting. Many planners look beautiful and fun, but I worry some people may get too focused on filling out their pretty little planner instead of living life and making things happen. Planners are a tool to keep you focused and sharp.

Download this daily planner for teens today

With that said, I created two downloadable planners in PDF format that is simple and essential to anyone’s life. I prefer the downloadable planner because you can print as many pages as you like! Both Simple Living planners come in three sizes so you can find a fun binder and put your own spin on it…which is great for making it your own.

Simple Living Planner Plus
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The Simple Living: All You Need Planner will help you stay on task. I designed it so it still gives you a few daily journal prompts that are fun to do. It is 17 pages. My goal is for this planner to help you get through your days feeling confident and productive. It focuses on the important things that will save us time and headaches.

The second planner I designed is the Simple Living: All You Need Planner PLUS. This 25-page simple planner PLUS is a great way to kick off 2022 and to be strong and successful throughout! I absolutely LOVE this planner because it feeds my mind, energizes my goals, and makes me feel good! This planner is like your personal life coach. It’s filled with healthy mental goodness that anyone can benefit from no matter what age. It has all the same great pages as the first planner, but with bonus pages suited to feed the mind and creative spirit. Designed for a daily planner for teens or tweens but so good for a planner for mom or grandma. Feel the love through this planner, truly a game-changer.

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Wrapping the planner up

Using a planner is an excellent way to get the most out of our time, but choosing the right planner is what will make or break you. Start the New Year on the right foot and allow happiness to penetrate your heart. It all starts with your time, organize and utilizing it well.

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By CT Copyright © 2021 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved
The #1 Way to Simplify Your Life for Good!

The #1 Way to Simplify Your Life for Good!

If you want to simplify your life, there is only one thing you need to do. When people think of simplifying they generally think of decluttering, painting their interior walls white, and swapping out their tv for books. All those things are awesome but simplifying is so much more than organizing and making a trip to the donation center.

What does this look like?

If we could strip down our homes, our closets, cars, fancy hair colors, elaborate foods, and our swag what would you see? How would you feel? To answer those questions kind of depends on where you are in life. But no matter where you sit on this stripping down, we all have a common ground. We all have the same amount of time, we all need to have clean water to survive, we all have bodies to take care of, we all have drive and purpose unique to our own, we all have family (whether by blood or by friendship) and we all have a heart.

So when people come to me and say “I want to simplify my life”, I get excited for them and understand them. They are ready for change. For I know their main target, whether said or kept silent, is to find peace and joy in this chaotic world.

Simplifying does get them there, yet the more we uncover the rubble of our homes, lifestyle, and everyday living, the more we will see what’s happening around us and in us. It is then where we conquer and achieve the peace and joy we were set out to claim.

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Do you want to simplify your life?

Okay, then, you want to simplify your life. Then, love. It’s love that will simplify your life. Love comes first. Love for God, love for your family, love for the things you enjoy, and love for the things you are grateful for.

That’s right, if you can just prioritize love, then everything else will take care of itself. It is what our Creator wants us to do, to love Him, and to love our neighbor…which is everybody in case you didn’t know. Love will get you places and put you on the path He has created just for you.

What do I mean by love?

I’m not talking about sexual love. Nor am I addressing the love of steak or red velvet cake. The love I’m talking about is genuine. Love is very complicated yet simple in form. I address the simple because it really is the little things that make such a big difference!

What is the simple form of love?

The simple form of love is to treat others the way you would like to be treated. This is so easy, yet so difficult because we get in our own way. When we can put ourselves to the side…happily…we will experience the peace and joy we’re after.

Planner for teens

How do we learn to love in this way?

We look to Jesus. He came to earth to give us an example of how to love. Not only that, he then took on a brutal beating, got nailed to a cross by his hands and feet, and suffered a slow death of his earthly body…for you. He went through all of this to forgive you of your sins so that you can talk with God directly, and go to heaven.

This past May I have done a little experiment and practiced what I just preached. It has been an amazing venture. And I have learned a great deal on how to simplify my life. I simplify loved my neighbor.

How do you love your neighbor to simplify your life?

You listen. Listen for keywords, for joys, for a cry for help. What are they going through, what are their needs, how can you bless them, or put a smile on their face? If you were in their shoes, what would you want? Listen to your own heart, what stirs it, did something strike it, is there something you know you should do?

With my experiment, I did just that. I put myself in others’ shoes and it really changed how I talked to people and what I did with my time. And you know what happened? It took the focus off my own problems and I experienced joy and peace.

Then do.

Simplify in 7

Here are some ideas to love on your neighbor:

  • Mow their yard
  • Shovel their driveway and/or sidewalk
  • Rake their leaves
  • Make them a special treat
  • Make them dinner or buy them takeout
  • Drop over some flowers for no reason
  • Share your garden goodies
  • Send them a card
  • Invite them to go on a walk
  • Think of them while you’re shopping, pick up a surprise for them.
  • Wave to them
  • Smile and say hello
  • Pray with them, pray for them
  • Keep your eyes and ears open for how to lend them a hand
  • Listen to them when they need to vent. Then listen to them again. Remember they’re not looking for you to solve their issue, they just need someone to listen to them. So instead of giving them your free advice, ask them questions and be curious in what they are trying to express to you. Listening is a huge way to love.

Simpliy said

To simplify your life life is not necessarily about stuff being organized neatly or having a blank calendar. Simplifying life is about making a shift of priorities and focusing on what your Creator would like you to focus on…love. He’ll take care of the rest.

By CT Copyright © 2021 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

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The #1 Mistake I Make When Busy Takes Over.

The #1 Mistake I Make When Busy Takes Over.

Is it me, or is it true that the last six weeks of school are insanely busy? Every year I say to myself, “I can handle May and June; I’m prepared for it.” But when it hits all the neat and tidy thoughts explode into chaos. Seriously! What am I doing wrong? The answer to this question is not what I’m doing right or wrong, the answer sits before my action.

My margin in the next four weeks is narrow. Some people see busy as a badge, some see it as a weight. And if you’re like me, I actually like to be busy…its fun for me…most of the time. But right now, it’s no joke; I am too busy to enjoy ‘busy’. I feel like someone should slap me in the face and say, “Get a hold of yourself Christy!” There are probably a lot of issues in this paragraph, but that’s a different post.

Don’t get me wrong I’m excited about having fun this summer with my family, but since I work from home, balance and harmony with projects and play can be super challenging! So I have a choice during these anxious weeks on the edge of summer: I can work on these things every spare moment, or I can embrace this time and live in the moment.

Carpe Diem

p;ink chair

Right now I’m supposed to tell you that I chose to live in the moment. That I am skipping down the sidewalk smelling the lilacs, singing the words Carpe Diem, and hosting a butterfly on my shoulder. Yeah, that’s…not…happening. Yes I want to smell the lilacs, yes I want to change the world, yes I want to love on my family, and yes I want to get things done for the church, the community, my job, the school fundraisers…yes, yes, yes! Um…hmm…so…this is when you see me draw circles in the dirt with my toe. Yep. I just realized what’s been happening. “Yes.”

It’s my fault. My expectations and the make-believe expectations others have for me weakens my stance. The answer to ‘what am I doing wrong’ sits on one of two words: YES or NO. I need to pick one when someone asks me something. More importantly, I need to pick one when I ask myself something.

best planner ever

So which word is going to hold the most weight?

It depends. It depends on your personal values. Values? According to Dictionary.com, values are a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life. Let me ask you, do you know what your values are? Have you ever really thought about it?

If we want to be true to ourselves, values hold a lot of weight. So check this out, if people could use their values as a guide to their ‘yes’ or ‘no’, then life would be so much more enjoyable, don’t cha think? Isn’t that what we’re after? Joy? Then why is it so hard to use our values? Why have I collapsed these past weeks? Because I FORGOT to use my values to hold me up. I forgot! This was my #1 mistake!

If you were a knight geared up for battle, what piece of equipment protects you from arrows? What piece of equipment gives you a little more confidence when running towards the battlefield? Do you remember that scene in the movie 300 when all the soldiers used their shields to protect themselves? That’s what values do.

I wrote this post to remind you to not lose sight of your values; to put your values in front of your YES or NO. And to not forget the power and protection that values hold. Young eyes are watching you.

Head to my Freebies for a Free Printable to help you define your values.

By CT Copyright © 2018 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

Slow down Showdown. 4 Tips to put on the breaks.

Slow down Showdown. 4 Tips to put on the breaks.

Slow down Showdown is an event we racehorses ignore. However, to have endurance and finish strong, a ‘whoa back’ is in dire order. Today I have four questions to help you figure out how to slow down before it’s made for you without your consent.

“She’ll be coming around the mountain when she comes.”

While writing this post a lyric from the old childhood song, She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain” got stuck in my head. ‘Whoa back’, she’ll be driving six white horses when she comes ‘whoa back’. Busyness can take many forms: a badge of accomplishment, a strained ball-n-chain, or simply a lifestyle without margin. When we get in the busy mode we have blinders in our peripheral vision, our backs are heavily weighed, and we kick ourselves to go faster. The term ‘whoa back’ isn’t in our vocabulary, so slowing down would be a crime.

However, at some point, we will get bucked off and hit the ground. After we dust ourselves off we most likely will ask what the heck was that? Or where did that come from? Staying on the horse is about knowing when to say “not right now”. It’s about knowing where we need to slow down. And it’s about knowing how to do it.

teen planner

1. What caused that?

I recently got bucked off of not knowing what caused my unstoppable manner. My schedule had no margin. If I wasn’t working on DMTE, I was working my second job, and if I wasn’t doing that, I was busy with some other project, and then finally…I would fill in the cracks with my family. My priorities were out-of-whack. The harmony of the many roles I played each day was out of tune. And the problem was that I knew I had too much in my schedule. Does anyone hear me? I knew it but ignored it.

Was I addicted to being busy? Running from something? Trying to impress someone? I’m not 100% sure, but I know when I fall prey to comparison my schedule builds. If she can do it, I can do it. The word “no” doesn’t exist. The word “stop” is blasphemy.

How this happens

busy horses running wild

During these comparison seasons chatting with colleagues and hearing stories of massively insane schedules makes me wonder how they get it all done. Am I doing something wrong? Am I not doing enough? Are they really getting it done? This thinking catalyzes my expectations of myself, which can be good and bad, but differentiating between the two is a challenge.

Why am I so tired?

This is mentality exhausting and frankly, it’s stupid thinking. No one is perfect. Who has it all figured out? No one is ever skipping down the Yellow Brick Road with all her ducks in a row. Everyone has different strengths. Yet, the problem with comparisons, whether it be on social media or in grocery store conversations, is that we don’t know the whole story. We don’t always see the condition of others’ hearts and how it weighs on their wellness. We just see the ‘yes man’ and subconsciously start to compete.

It’s a vicious cycle and a damaging one. We agree to things we don’t want to do, we fill our schedules to please others, and we constantly aim for perfection. But what happens to us in the process? What happens to our well-being? What happens when we’re running here and there and everywhere with no time to spare? Mistakes. Mistakes happen.

2. When do we know when we need to slow down?

My red flags came from a variety of sources. One was my family voicing their opinion. Other flags blocked me from enjoying the outdoors like I used to. Another came from messages I heard in church or songs in my playlist. And the biggest one came from my body, the one vessel that makes it all happen. If there is one thing that will slow us down, it’s our bodies. My mistake was not listening to these messages. I kicked my butt a little too hard to try to go faster…literally, I got horrible piriformis syndrome which forced me to slow down, way down. Before the injury, I knew I was exhausted mentally, spiritually, and physically, but I pressed on. And it got me nowhere.   

woman laying on log slow down time

The Bible talks a lot about slowing down, taking a Sabbath (Exodus 20:9-10), to just be (Psalm 46:10), and to come to Him who are weary and need rest (Matthew 11:28). These are just a few references in the Bible. But the Lord has a reason for teaching us how to slow down. He put it in the Bible so it must important, right? I believe one of those reasons is to give our bodies and minds rest so we don’t make big mistakes.

3. Where do we need to slow down?

This question is simply answered by paying attention. Where are you most stressed? What is occupying the majority of your time? How is your schedule affecting others? Are they agitated? Needy? Lonely? Perfecting balance in every area of your life is not a destination. It’s a moment. We can’t be everywhere at once, hence this blog post. There will be days when the schedule weighs heavier in one area than another, but the key is to recognize it. Quieting the mind and sitting in silence helps see where there is congestion. Slowing down a racehorse isn’t easy, so start by giving yourself five minutes of silence. This awareness helps you try harder the next day to find that harmony. Consciously be aware of how you’re using your time, you’ll see where it needs to slow down.

4. How do we slow down before it’s forced upon us?

This is a great question. I’m still practicing figuring it out. One thing is for sure, we need to set boundaries. Setting boundaries gives us permission to say ‘not right now’ or ‘no, but thank you for thinking of me’. Boundaries give us our space to recuperate so when we do say ‘yes’ we can be our best. You can say ‘no’ to others, but it’s imperative to also say ‘no’ to yourself and the expectations you’ve created.

Racing with other horses is a game; it’s not a way to live. When you’re coming around the mountain, see if you need to ‘whoa back’ before moving any further.  

By CT Copyright © 2019 More Than Existence, All Rights Reserved. 

4 Must-Haves to Start Anything – Gotta Start Somewhere

4 Must-Haves to Start Anything – Gotta Start Somewhere

Mark Twain says it this way, “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” Getting started is probably the most difficult task of them all. We know what we want to do, we can see where we want to go, but we don’t necessarily know how to start. In this post, I’m going to share with you the top three must-haves in starting your goal, business idea, or task at hand. Let’s get started.

1. Have a plan.

Of course, I was going to say that. If there is no plan, there is no map. When the map isn’t in front of our faces, we won’t know what direction we’re going in. We could be going in circles for all we know…which has happened to me. In fact, I was going so fast around the circle that I actually thought I was going somewhere.

Take things one step at a time. The first step is the write everything down. I know all these ideas have been in your head and you may think that is enough, but get it down on paper. For some of us, this might even be scary. “What if it doesn’t look as good on paper as it does in my head?” This might be true for starters. But keep working on it. Draw pictures, use details, it can be hard to transform information from our brains to the paper. But at least we can see it now. When it is down on paper, your idea becomes real. Now that’s really scary. But if you really want this to happen, it starts with paper and a pencil.

2. Get organized

The next step is to take all those things you wrote down and organize them in categories or to-dos. I personally wouldn’t do this on the same day as step one. You just puked out your idea on paper, if that was hard, let it sit there overnight and start step two the next day. One exception to this rule is if you are on a roll and are ready to break it down, then go for it.

Organizing your ideas, the steps you need to take, the research that needs to happen, the tools you need to acquire is critical to your success. Think of anything and everything you think you need to make this dream happen. You won’t know if all, but you need someplace to start.

Lastly, break down these tasks into doable steps. I know you’re going to want to go fast, but there is no sense in going fast if you don’t know what the heck you’re doing. Step by step. In fact, when you take a step-by-step approach, you may find you will go faster than expected. Most importantly, with each step, we get a little more confident in what we’re doing. And with more confidence, comes the next step, then the next, and so on. Get the free printable on goals at Firefly Freebies.

3. Seek encouragement – this is a big one!

“Gotta start somewhere” is a great weapon to protect you from judgment. When you’re trying to describe your dream or idea to someone and they just don’t get it, you’re probably going to get some weird looks and unasked opinions. Remember this with your kids. When they come to you and say, “Hey Mom! I’ve got this great idea to make popcorn bowls out of my old basketballs!” If you want your child to come to ask for your opinion in the future, you better choose how you react wisely. The idea may stink, but they need to figure that out on their own.

Lesson one: tell someone you trust, who will give you encouragement, more on this in a minute. Lesson two; don’t say a thing to someone who may bash your idea into liver pudding. Remember, if someone comes to you to share an idea, this person came to you, they feel safe with you. They are seeking a green light. No matter what the idea they tell you, give them a high-five! Anyone who drums up the courage to tell someone something dear to their heart deserves a five.

teen planner

My Story

This happened to me many times before I finally learned my valuable lesson of ‘pick who you share with’. The most hurting time was when I shared some ideas with someone I loved. You’d think that is the right person to share with, and sometimes it is, but those loved ones can be very critical. They don’t mean to be critical. They love you so much they don’t want you to fail. So to ‘protect’ you, they blast constructive criticism from the gate. Parents, spouses, best friends listen to me, please. You may think you’re helping, but you’re not. At this point, think before you speak, this isn’t your spotlight to steel with knowledge or ego, it isn’t a time to ask a million questions of how they’re going to do it, again, just be excited for them, let them have this moment and give them encouragement.

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Getting worked up

The embarrassing time when I shared my idea was at a dinner party with my husband and his colleagues. Wrong time. I panicked really. Of course, at any work function, one of the questions people asked is, “Where do you work?” I should have known better. Why wouldn’t they ask this, we’re all curious to know what people do and secretly compare our lives to theirs. We’re all guilty of that. Anyway…while we were sitting at the dinner table waiting for our salads, the butterflies started to flutter in my belly.

Here I was a stay-at-mom-home who was trying to start a blog. I wanted to say something important like I’m launching a new product. Everyone else has these big fancy things they were doing. My blog was just starting out and wasn’t too confident about it. I guess I could say I’m a stay-at-home-mom, which I’m very proud of doing, but I got stupid. My hands were getting sweaty as the person next to me told us what she did. These people have awesome jobs. Me? I had a hobby. And the annoying part of this experience was that it was loud in the restaurant so you had to yell for anyone to hear you. Go figure.

What do you do?

Yikes! My turn. Oh boy. “I’m starting a new blog to help people go after their true dream in life and do more than exist.” At the time my blog was domorethanexist.com. From my answer people just stared at me, which seemed like five minutes. Because no one said anything I felt like I had to explain myself. I should have stopped there. Not really knowing what I was saying I went on and fumbled, but tried to catch myself. Big “L” to the forehead.

When I was trying to explain the blog their expression on their faces made me feel so out of place like I had a bug on my face and they were trying to figure out if they should smack it or let it crawl in my mouth and choke me. All this was going through my head until I said my magic words “Gotta start somewhere, right?”  All of a sudden, the bug jumped off my face and into their mouths, they couldn’t argue, they couldn’t judge. Those four words made all the difference, and who knows maybe they were jealous they weren’t in a position I was. Toast to that! Wipe to the brow.

Two quick lessons at the dinner party:

  1. Know your pitch before you go to a dinner party
  2. When you get that ‘bug on your face look’ use “Gotta start somewhere, right?”, they’ll simply nod their head and repeat, “Gotta start somewhere.” Try it, it’s funny.

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Where do you get true encouragement?

Know who to go to.

This goes back to some of the things I just said. If you know the person you’re going to is going to be critical, don’t talk to that person. I know that’s going to be hard, because sometimes we have this weird emotional acceptance thing that goes something like this, “if Sally (the critical person) approves of my idea then it’s gotta be a good one. I’ll just keep asking her opinion on my ideas until I get a thumbs-up from her.” STOP IT! You’re playing the acceptance game, fold your hand and leave the table. If you continue to go to this person your self-esteem will tank. Don’t have anyone? Talk to me! Seriously, send me an email and we’ll talk.

The Bible.

The Bible is full of encouragement. In a weird way, the Bible is not dated, meaning God speaks to us individually through His words no matter what year it is. One verse may mean something one day, then a year later that same verse may mean something totally different. He knows what you need to hear and when you need to hear it. You just have to willing to read the pages. One of my favorite verses is Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid? (NIV).

Teachers, mentors, coaches, our kids.

Teachers are great encouragers, so are mentors, coaches, and even your own children. When I tell my son an idea I get a ‘high five’ right away. Kids are pretty smart, they’re extremely observant. On a side note, just the other day, I was trying to figure out a new plugin for the website and it took me forever to figure it out, when in fact, I couldn’t get it to work. My son had asked how my day went and I told him I had wasted it on a silly plugin, nothing got done. His response surprised me, “Mom, you didn’t waste your day, you learned what not to do!” I laughed, smiled, and said, “Right On! I needed to hear that. Thanks, Bud.”

Yourself.

If anyone can encourage you, it can be yourself. Gotta start somewhere. With that said, head over to my Freebies and download my top favorite affirmations.

Random places.

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More sources of encouragement come from non-fiction books, YouTube videos of motivational speakers, stories from those TV talent shows, music, and even a stranger. When I first started out I got encouragement from Holley Gerth’s book, “You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream“. I still reference it today. So good!

4. And lastly, tap into courage.

In 2008 I started blogging. I had no idea what I was doing or how to do it for that matter. Note the dinner party. All I knew was that I needed to start somewhere. In the various books and ‘how to blog’ posts I read over the years, I’ve noticed a common denominator; nothing happens until Courage is invited (make picture quote).

I had to get the guts to try. “Gotta start somewhere” gives us permission to take a step forward, to try it on for a bit. They say, “You don’t know what the hell you’re doing, but you gotta at least try. So if you fall, it’s because you didn’t know what you’re doing. And that’s okay. Now stand the hell back up and figure it out.”  

What is courage?

It’s the moment in time where we take a step of faith not knowing what will come of it but do it anyway. Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” (NIV) Gotta start somewhere.

When we put ourselves out there, people are going to judge. The magical element of courage is that we don’t care what other people think, we have a vision and we’re going to try our hardest to see that vision become part of the big picture. When people watch, give them a show. Show them how to move forward, how to stand back up, and how to fight.

Those bug-on-your-face looks are beaming with curiosity or maybe jealously. Remember, everyone has their own opinion, and they are only opinions; it’s you who you need to believe in.

How do we ‘start somewhere’?

  • Pray. Daily. In Jesus’s name. “Lord, light my fire within. What is my next step?”
  • Plan. Step by step.
  • Practice. Try your dream on, take it off, try it on again.

You stepping out in faith may not only help you but others who want to do the same. “Gotta start somewhere” isn’t just permission to try; it’s also to inspire others to do the same.

By CT Copyright © 2017 Simplify Firefly. All Rights Reserved.

Top 4 Sabotages to Our Goals? You’ll Never Guess Them.

Top 4 Sabotages to Our Goals? You’ll Never Guess Them.

Off-track? When our goals and declarations stutter to a stop, our proactive self immediately turns into a reactive being. We get into a vicious cycle of reacting to our circumstances instead of making things happen. I’m here to help you prevent that from happening. Learn my 4 repair tricks!

What ain’t gonna work

Forward is the right direction, no? As with anything in moving forward, it’s a lot easier to use a flashlight than to stumble in the dark. Understanding our triggers and how to defeat them is one key to victory. Picture this; we start the year off strong. The first week we’re super motivated. The second week it gets a little harder. The third week something happens; we’re not sure what…but we veer off course; so much so we decide to set up camp. I’ve personally been there many times. Frankly, my old patterns are comfortable, they’re easy. But friend, there is something else I’ve learned; “comfortable” and “easy” ain’t gonna getcha where ya want ta go. So let’s learn more about what trips us up in the first place.

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Here are the top stumbling blocks:

L = LIES we believe.

It’s too hard. Let’s face it, when things are hard ‘quitting’ comes to mind. This year quitting is not an option. Your goals need to be challenging, but they don’t need to be hard. There’s a difference. It’s called pace and workload. It’s too hard is a lie. When actions are taken step-by-step anything is possible.

THE FIX: Breakdown your resolution and put a plan in place. Write down what you want to do every week, then every day, then every morning and evening. Just make sure you win. I don’t care how small the step is, you’re still moving forward. Make the day count.

A = ACTIONS WE DON’T TAKE.

There’s a lack of motivation. When I’m unmotivated I procrastinate. I wait until I FEEL like it. Well if I waited until I FELT like it all the time, nothing would move forward. There are a couple of things I’m talking about. The first is to understand the purpose. Why must this get done? What space does it fill? What piece of my goal does this satisfy? The second is the FEEL part. This is a time when you pull-up your boot-straps and put the emotions aside.

THE FIX: Ask yourself, “How am I going to feel when I get this done?” If your answer is ‘relief, amazing, good, a load off’, then that means it needs to happen…make it so.

Simplify Firefly Etsy

Z = ZOMBIE GOALS.

Our goal is not specific. It’s like we’re walking around like zombies. Let’s say my resolution is to manage my finances better; I declare “I’m going to save money this year.” Then what? Ask yourself these questions: Who? What? When? Where? How? Who is going to help me? What changes am I going to do? When am I going to review these things? Where am I going to go if I need help? How am I going to succeed? When you have the answers to these questions you have a better view of how it’s going to happen.

THE FIX: be specific when writing your goals, something like this: “I’m going to review my cash flow and budget every Thursday after work.” To help you out in the goal department I created a printable on the Freebies page.

Y-YELLERS get our attention.

We get distracted. When our focus isn’t on our end goal we flounder around in circles. Some people get stuck in this pattern and find it harder and harder to break free. To break through this twister, we must intentionally turn away from the distracting force and focus on what lies ahead. I read an article a few years ago about the power behind just seeing the word “FOCUS”; it said that it can mysteriously snap us back on track. It sounds crazy, but I tried it, and it worked for me. 

THE FIX: when you find yourself getting distracted, recognize what is happening and remove yourself from the distracting environment. Write the word “focus” and place it in areas where distractions linger.

teen planner

And…there it is

If you haven’t quite figured it out yet, the acronym I used was LAZY. Our resolutions fail because we get lazy. Been there, done that! We are human ya know. Another way to look at it, it that you might say we get a “lazy eye”, not physically, but mentally. We lose sight of our WHY, why am I doing this anyway, we might ask.

The word “lazy” means: unwilling to work or use energy. Talk about a knife in the wound. Lazy isn’t a bad word, especially on your day off. But it can be used against you in all other states of affairs.

bulls eye dart board

My perspective about personal goals and resolutions is this: no one is going to do it for you. If you want it, YOU have to go get it. Staying reactive to things in life isn’t life, that’s existence…you just exist. But when you use your knowledge, resources, talents, strength, and creativity to go after your own goals…that’s not only productive, that’s doing more than existing.

Take things step-by-step, check your motivation, use specifics when setting goals, and FOCUS. May you be filled with dreams, plans, and amazing goals for your soul.

By CT Copyright © 2021 More Than Existence, All Rights Reserved

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