The Truth Behind “Can’t”.

The Truth Behind “Can’t”.

This post isn’t about a movie review; it’s about the message God put in my heart while watching this particular story. I had an epiphany and want to share it with you. With that said, may you find motivation and inspiration from the word “can’t”.

In 2018 the movie I Can Only Imagine debuted and has made over $85 million. The song I Can Only Imagine hit radio stations 19 years earlier. The movie is based on the true story of the songwriter, Bart Millard. When the movie came out, I personally thought it would be a boring movie. Two years later, I finally watched it and my emotional response shocked me.

Why did the movie grab me so much?

This past Sunday I was in a funk. We had just come off a 3-week vacation camping at a nearby campground…kudos to my husband who stayed there the entire duration, but for me? My busy brain came home now and then to get things done around the house, tend to appointments, and feel productive. It wasn’t until the last week I could finally sink into the vacation. Have you ever experienced something like that? I was actually mad I couldn’t submit to vacation. Anyway, I was grateful our trip was 3 weeks long, otherwise, I would have missed ‘vacation mode’.

My funk.

Since I did most of my chores while on vacation when we got back I didn’t have any motivation to do anything! In times like these I usually think about my blog, my creative projects, or simply go for a walk. But instead, I revisited my career path and asked myself hard questions; and frankly, I felt more lost than ever. It was a moment of dead space where you think about where you’ve been and where you want to go and feel you missed something. Ugh. Needless to say, I needed to escape and watch a movie.

As I was flipping through Hulu, my finger stopped at “I Can Only Imagine”. I vaguely remembered my family telling me it was a good movie and thought, what the heck; it’s Sunday, why not watch a Christian movie.   

From the beginning, I was into it. Multiple times through the movie I found myself getting emotional. My emotions were scattered and jumping from one character to another. One minute I was sad for Bart, and next I was upset about his mom in many ways. I was sad his dad was so confused and abusive. Then my heart ached for his dad when he was trying to figure out the Bible on his own. And then back to Bart of how he heard from God and pursued. But what was I really crying about?

The truth comes out

Deep emotions surfaced from my own past, and as I peered closer to the anchor which has kept me down, I saw a four-letter word written on it. Through my blurred teary eyes the word “can’t” became clear.

“You Can’t”

Throughout my life, I have heard “you can’t” from people I love and respect, from people I have trusted, and mostly myself. With ideas and dreams I’ve shared, I was hopeful for encouragement and instead got, “that’s silly”, “you know how hard you’d have to work?”, “you don’t want to do that”, “do you even qualify to do that?”… “you can’t”… these words not only were verbally spoken, but the Enemy whispered them in my ear too. They pretty much say, “don’t even try”.

Not only did I hear it from my family and friends, but I heard it on the media. “You can’t do that without this.” “You can’t lose weight without this system and support team.” And the list goes on.

To add more shine to the word “can’t”, my body was telling me I can’t! My digestive system got so messed up I’m unable to eat a “normal” diet. I actually have to think about what to order at a restaurant and make sure it’s safe for me to eat. Other aliments loitered and set up camp for months and then years crippling my ability to sit for long periods and walk without pain.

I was really starting to believe I couldn’t do the things I had ideas about. It felt like no one took me seriously or believed in me…even me. Do you know what that’s like?

When someone tells you it can't be done, it's more a reflection of their limitations, not yours.

Moving On

As I reflected on the movie and looked closer at the word “can’t” I realized something. You know how some people get motivated when other people tell them they can’t do something? Then you turn around and the next thing you know they’ve achieved that very dream someone told them they couldn’t do! From a Christian perspective take a look at the configuration of the word “can’t”. What do you see?

This movie showed me something I’ve missed for so many years. When you physically see how the letters of “can’t” are configured anything is possible with Jesus.

Simply by looking at the word “can’t” with merciful eyes helps us see life in a new light. Right now in my life, I am learning how to take the “can’ts” and give them to Jesus. This isn’t always easy, but it gives me the extra power to overcome and move forward. When I ask Him, He’ll give me the strength to sort through, persevere, and push on.

To get you started download my 30 favorite affirmations right now. And for more freebies head over to my freebies page and unlock numerous resources to get you moving forward.

If you haven’t seen the movie yet, whether you’re a Christian or not, give it try, you may just experience a breakthrough.

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

Cleaning the House: 5 Factors to Understand

Cleaning the House: 5 Factors to Understand

Cleaning the house has been one of the most toxic yet healthy tasks in life. Sure we could pay someone else to do it but stay humble friend. Living in a clean house is not just healthy for our bodies, but for our psyche. Learn how to make cleaning less stressful by understanding 5 key factors.

cleaning the house: 5 factors to understand to make it less stressful

There have been numerous times my husband has suggested hiring someone to clean our house. Each time he brings it up three reasons keep me from saying yes:

1. I would still clean the house before they came to clean!

2. It’s hard to find a good cleaner, yet alone one you can trust.

3. It’s one more thing to add to the budget.

Someday I will probably get there, but I honestly don’t have any excuses for why I can’t clean my own house. So if you’re like me, listen up to loosen up about cleaning the house.

Why cleaning the house matters

First off, living in a clean home does a body and mind good. When we don’t dust or vacuum as often as we should, dust mites build up and can lead to allergies. Not to mention lingering smells and sticky surfaces. It’s like a welcome mat for various germs and bugs with large bodies and little legs…that will motivate me to clean!

Like mowing the lawn, cleaning provides that same kind of instant gratification. Accomplishing a clean house is a huge win, especially if you put your own sweat into it. When I’m cleaning I like to think of all the money I’m saving from paying someone to do it, not to mention all the calories I just burned!

5 factors to determine how often I clean

I’m not a deep cleaner every time I clean my house. Deep cleaning and the number of times to clean will depend on your situation. I’ve found there are five factors to determine how often to clean your house.

Pets

If you have a shedding dog or other messy pet, cleaning is probably going to happen more often.

Kids

The number of kids determines how often to clean. With kids, you must consider their ages. Starting a child out at 5-years-old with an easy cleaning chore helps them understand you’re not their servant. The older they get the more they should help.   

Allergies

If your husband’s allergies flare up, dusting and vacuuming will be more frequent. When my husband sneezes in the morning, I know it’s time to clean. My son has the same issue. I’m getting a lot of miles on my vacuum!

Location

Where you live plays a factor in how often to clean the house. Do you live in a dusty field, near a construction site, or pollen invested forest? Again, in these instances, allergies could attack.

Personality

And lastly, don’t forget about your personality. Ask yourself these questions: Are you ‘Laidback Jack’ or ‘Anal Andy’? Do you like to do things yourself or are you a delegator? What about how you were taught? How often are you entertaining? Get an understanding of who you are and how you want to move forward.

All in all

When it comes to cleaning the house, get in the right frame of mind. Schedule a cleaning day and make sure your kids or husband understand what cleaning is and what their responsibilities are. Remember your cleaning schedule depends on where you live, who lives with you, and how you’re living!

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

5 Important Ways to Measure Success without Numbers

5 Important Ways to Measure Success without Numbers

To measure success in this day and age it pretty much boils down to a number. Sales numbers, weight on the scale, pant size, steps walked, income, number of orders, miles ran, test results, and so forth. There is nothing wrong with measuring success by numbers, I personally love it, but numbers can also drive us batty. I’m here to tell you that numbers can lie from time to time (from a personal success standpoint, not as in lab results). I’ve got a HUGE question to ask you plus I’ll give you five amazing ways to measure your success without numbers involved.

5 Important Ways to Measure Success without numbers

Last week a friend ask me a few questions about my blog and she had a hard time of why I was pouring so much time and energy into it. The numbers threw her off. The conversation went something like this, “Christy you only have X number of social media followers, you don’t have hundreds of email subscribers, and your sales are down. Why are you doing this? You can make a lot more money if you did anything else.”

Can you relate?

If you get frustrated when people tell you things you already know…especially about the numbers, then I know you get it. If you get weird looks when you tell people you’re a stay-at-home-mom, a full-time volunteer, or you spend a lot of time on your hobby, then I’m sure you also get it…if not more so.

First off, there are times when we didn’t ask their opinion but they give it to us anyway. This is where we graciously explain what we do and why we do it without getting defensive. If fact, if people do this there is most likely something stirring in their hearts that needs healing. Either way, this is when we swoop in and stick up for ourselves and to honestly yet kindheartedly ‘shut them up’. Most importantly, it’s when we say, “I measure success differently, let me explained.”

They say "Show me the money!" You say "Show me you love me."

My friend. What she said.

As I mentioned earlier I had to have this hard conversation the other day with a close friend. She was confused and even got a little heated…this I can’t figure out…but I think it was out of concern. She obviously measures success and happiness by numbers and numbers only. I love my dear friend and she knows that that’s why we can be brutally honest with each other.

 Just so you know, she’s okay with me blogging about this conversation. And for the record, I’m not saying she is wrong of how she measures success but opening her mind to different ways of measuring broaden her perspective and even helped her in her line of work. The thing that bothered me most was the tone she used in talking to me. It was stern and serious like she was my boss or an investor. I felt like I was on Shark Tank being blasted by Mr. Wonderful. I certainly wasn’t asking her for anything. But I simply took a deep breath, reminded myself that my friend is trying to help me, and spoke from my heart.

When the heart comes out in words, things change. Throughout the conversation, she listened. She nodded her head, even cocked it at times. You could tell she was unraveling her confusion. The tone in her voice changed and she said, “I didn’t even look at it that way. I get it now. ” I simply responded with, “Cool.”   

What does your work provide?

When you lose sight and get stuck in the numbers game. To measure success by numbers and numbers only is eventually going to bite you. This is a time to remind yourself why you’re in this game. Rather than ask yourself what the numbers are telling you, a bigger question you should ask yourself is this: What does (whatever-you’re-working-on) provide for you? This is a HUGE question. And it’s how you look at it that determines your success.

5 ways to measure success from a “providing” perspective

1. Outlet

Blogging provides me with an outlet. I’m the type of person who measures her day by what she created that day. Did I write a blog post? Did I create a social media post or inspiring quote picture? Did I incorporate a new plug-in or fix a few things on the website? Did I help my son with something or make him laugh today? Did I try a new recipe? Things like that. Having an outlet to feed your creative beast is not only therapeutic but it is a seriously good vitamin for mental health. My blog provides me with a place to bring my ideas to life, to express my thoughts, and to help others in the same boat. This is a success!

2. Voice

I come from a large family with a variety of personalities. If you happen to be the baby of the family, like myself, sometimes it can be hard to be heard. In large conversations I have found to be heard and listened to is like a battle. You need to fight for space. And even when you do get the soapbox you’re likely to get interrupted. Do you hear me? On the flip side, the pro of this family position is that I have become an excellent listener, which in some ways is more powerful than speaking. But when I have something important to say when people won’t let me have a voice, my blog gives me permission to speak without interruptions.

3. Purpose

Life purpose is something every human craves. We want to feel like we’re making a difference! My blog helps provide that purpose. Whether 500 people read my stuff or ten, I’m at least going beyond my walls and reaching out to the world. I’m at least taking the steps to do something I am passionate about. For instance, as I mentioned earlier, my blog gives me a platform. I’m super passionate about helping people lose weight and getting healthy. I’m also passionate about our mental well-being. And I love to try and raise an independent child in a fun way. My blog allows me to fulfill those passions by writing about those topics…it gives me purpose.

4. Education

I can’t stress enough how much my blog has exercised my brain! There have been numerous programs I’ve had to learn to get to where I am today. Sure I could have paid someone to do it all, but what good is that if I don’t understand how it works or want to make a small change? I personally like to try things on my own first. If I can’t figure it out, then I’ll pass it on to someone else. Having my blog has kept my mind sharp and eager to learn. It’s exciting and it’s a confidence booster when you figure something out. Success!

5. Gratification

According to Merriam-Webster gratification is the act of pleasing oneself or of satisfying one’s desires. After a big week of working on my blog, I love looking back on the week and saying to myself “You did it, you figured it out Christy, and made it happen!” It’s so gratifying to see all your hard work put into action, kind of like mowing the lawn. Stepping back to see a job well done satisfies the soul and brings warmth to the heart.  

Numbers don't always tell the truth.

Wrapping up how to measure success

Measure success by what your work provides for you. On that day I talked with my friend, I told her, “I know you like numbers, but numbers don’t always tell the truth of success. My blog provides invaluable benefits. It gives me an outlet to express my creative side, it provides me a safe place for my voice to be heard, it gives me a purpose to get out of bed every morning at 5:30 A.M., it exercises my brain and keeps me learning new things every day, and it satisfies my soul. So thank you for your concern about my numbers, but numbers do lie when it comes to this.”

Do not give up on your passion. Do not let anyone tell you to shut your doors because they don’t understand. Keep moving forward one step at a time. Your time will come when people will start to turn their heads to see what you’re up to. Shine your light friend the way you like to do it!

Take care friend,

Christy

Bonus: How to start a blog

Starting a blog can be overwhelming. There is so much information out there it’s hard to know where to turn. My suggestion to you if you interested in starting a blog is to just start it. Start by writing blog posts right now in Word or in your journal. Draw out how you want your blog to look, what name you want to have, and even what colors represent your message. You can do a lot right now without having a platform yet. I recommend writing at least five posts before deciding on your platform.

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

5 Effective Ways to Shut the Mind Off!

5 Effective Ways to Shut the Mind Off!

How to turn your mind off

When I can’t shut the mind off I sometimes experience ‘anxiety anaphylaxis’; sounds worse than it is, I just get super moody. Why does this happen to me? I can sum it up in one word: BUSY. When it comes to being a mom, ‘busy’ is born right along with your little one. Don’t get me wrong I LOVE being a mom and I don’t mind being busy every once in a while, but it’s when BUSY takes over that I can’t think straight, my ‘to-do’ list turns into ‘to-do’ book, and the calendar looks like someone threw-up on it. Been there?

Busy Badge – not so

If ‘busy’ was a noun it would be a ball-and-chain latched to my ankle. I don’t see ‘busy’ as a badge of accomplishment; I see it as a stock or pillory. Here’s why: ‘Busy’ is yearning to do things you want to do without having the time to do them. That’s my version of the definition. Merriam-Webster Dictionary says ‘busy’ is: engaged in action, occupied. Here’s the difference between the two definitions, when I’m ‘engaged in action’ with an activity I want to do, I’m not ‘busy’, I’m free. You might need to read that again to let it sink in.

definition of busy

How do we do it?

How do we shut the mind off to have the freedom to work on the things that bring purpose into our lives? Personal development? Or on the flip-side, how to not think about anything?

Men are pretty good at being able to turn their minds off. My husband and I will be having coffee, talking right along than five minutes of silence go by so I ask what my husband is thinking; and he says, “Nothing”. Seriously? Mark Gungor, author, and motivational speaker has an excellent and hilarious way of describing the differences between men and women’s minds. For instance, men have this thing called the ‘Nothing Box’. I mean, what the heck is that? You can watch it here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWiBRL-bxiA so funny.

5 Effective Ways for us ladies

But how do we ladies go about finding how to shut the mind off?

1. Change environments. Escape from the environment that is causing you to constantly think of your to-do list, or the problem you’re facing. For instance; for me, I need to step away from the house. Because I’m a stay-at-home-mom I live in my work. So when I’m at my house it’s natural for me to always have a project going. For short term results, I’ll go to my favorite store and wonder. I didn’t say buy stuff, just window shop. For long term effects, we get out of town; and for my family that means camping. If you’re stuck inside get some amazing wall art and lose yourself in the picture.

desk with notebook and computer

2. Write things out. Putting it down on paper makes things more do-able. We, humans, tend to let our mind get away from us. We play-up our tasks way harder than they really are. Yet, when we get it down on paper it helps calm our neurons. I personally enjoy taking a clean sheet of copy paper, grabbing a pencil, and drawing a circle. From the circle, I create branches of all the things I’m thinking about…primarily my to-do list or ideas…then I break those branches into smaller do-able bites. Or go the traditional route and invest in a journal.

affirmations
Available in Freebies

3. Converse with God. Talking with God helps me release the chains and give them to Him. Did you catch what I said? “Talking with God, not at Him or to Him, but with, like a friend talks with a friend. He wants a relationship with you, he wants to hear your side of the story, and he wants to help you. All you need to do is talk with Him. For instance, I escape to my favorite walking place and pray while I’m walking. For me, hearing my voice speak rather than trying to sort it all out in my mind helps me focus on the conversation. Then I stop talking and just listen; this gives me a breather and a chance for God to breathe into me.  I enjoy Jesus Calling as a nice devotional to help hear His voice.  

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4. Watch a good show. There is no better feeling than turning on a movie at my fingertips. The comfy clothes come on and my ‘please don’t ask me anything’ time starts. When we are entertained it gives us time to relax and just be. Our brains need it, especially to sleep. It’s a chance we get to wander out of our reality and into a story.

Here’s a tip, be picky of what you put in your brain. If you’re looking to just feel good and float on a cloud, don’t choose The Silence of the Lambs; maybe try La La Land, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, or Steel Magnolias. If you don’t have a Smart TV a Fire TV Stick is the way to go. It’s super easy to get Netflix, Hulu, and Prime video to name a few…and cheaper! Ask yourself what you want to get out of a show before you start channel flipping. And yes, it’s true, what you put in your mind affects how you think, and how you think affects how you act.

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5. Create. Creativity gets your mind off the stress and into a different state of being. Entrepreneur.com has a great article on the benefits of putting our creativity to use. There are scientific studies on how it can reduce stress. Psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, says that when you “lose yourself” in the composition of a song (creating)…, you are essentially entering a healthy flow state. No wonder I feel so great after I create something. Experiment in the kitchen, rearrange your furniture, color, create a playlist…we all have creative abilities. I really love this adult coloring book: Psalms in Color.

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I challenge you to tap into at least two of the above suggestions this week to shut the mind off. Ask yourself what do I need to let go to give myself the time I need? Want more about ‘busy’, check-out this post.

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

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Finding Grace in the Cards We’re Dealt – 3 Tricks

Finding Grace in the Cards We’re Dealt – 3 Tricks

Challenges build character, right? I try to remind myself of that every time a ‘crisis’ rises. But why are we so hard on ourselves when trials surface? Part of the reason is perfectionism. Impatience comes to play. Then anger seeps into the equation. With all these feelings spinning, we lose sight of how to get through it. God put us on this planet to teach us, to love us, and to get us ready for eternity. One of the ways He demonstrates His confidence in us is through grace. Check out my three tricks to playing your cards.

Finding Grace in the Cards we're dealt. 3 Tricks to playing your cards right.

The Cards

A few years ago I was talking with my husband about my physical ailments. You see as a kid, my deep desire was to achieve optimal health. I exercised, I ate well, and I wanted to run a marathon. Then the disease kicked in. As a kid I got sick numerous times a year, as a young adult I fracture my hip which has left me ‘run-less’, and later in life, my immune system attacked my digestive health; among other unforeseen troubles, my dream was turning into dust or was it?

As I was going through my list of hurts, my husband said something I’ve heard many times but for some reason, it struck a chord in me that day. He said, “You gotta play the cards you’re dealt.” It was a way of reminding me that I’m not in control, yet to trust the One who is; and that I have a choice to fold my cards or to keep on playing them.

Right now in this post, I’m probably supposed to tell you to not “fold your hand”; but it’s in the folding of our hands where we learn how to play. When we ask God for help in our hardships, He helps us find the right path to run down…if we’re willing to step in that direction. So yes, fold when you have to, not to get out of the game, but to study the game and learn a better strategy.

First: Be good to yourself

There are times when we need to be our own advocate when it comes to our health. I made it my mission to get healthy. With this quest, I tried a lot of things and failed. I’m not where I want to be right now, but I’m not giving up. This is where grace gets dealt into the game. When we’re in a swirl of emotions, it’s critical to get some space to find grace. And it’s there in which all becomes clearer and we get wiser with our decisions.

What ‘grace’ am I talking about? The grace of civility towards ourselves; when we’re going through a rough season, remember to love-on yourself, not to punish or blame you. Be good to yourself, respect your well-being, and understand where you are and where you want to go; because it’s in those moments of grace, where the untangling begins, and where we see what cards to play next.

Secondly: Get in the right mindset

camper with dog

One late August I rediscovered how to wrap myself with a little grace. To transition from a busy summer to starting the school year, my family and I went camping. We hooked up the RV (don’t judge me, we got our tent badge years ago) and settled in a wooded campsite. Faint smells of last night’s campfires drifted under my nose, the quaking leaves and distance boat motors rested on my shoulders. And the canopy of trees comforted my busy head. That weekend I made it a point to go for a walk at least twice a day, not for exercise, but for rest.

As I walked through the sun beamed shadows my mind went back to my roots. As a child I played in the woods for hours on end. My imagination soared between the branches. And my energy and creativity glowed with every step I took. It was there where I felt like I could accomplish anything, where I felt strong and confident, where I felt healthy. And here I was once again in the mindset I needed to continue to take on.

John Muir Everyone needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature my heal and give strength to body and soul alike.

Thirdly: have a place of refuge

My childhood goal for optimum health gave me a run for my money. My body has failed me over and over; funny how that works. If God wants me to have good health, He’s not going to give it to me on a silver platter; He knows I’m smart. He knows that if I want it bad enough, I’m going to use the gifts He gave me to figure it out. When I face a new challenge with my health, I head to the woods and fold my hands. I can’t stress enough of how many times I’ve heard Him speak and direct my path of who I need to talk to next, or what to try, or with even getting a last-minute appointment. It’s been in my special sanctuary where I get instruction on what cards to play next.

God puts our special place of refuge in each of our hearts; mine is walking down a lined path of trees. Yours may be the beach, the mountains, the lake, the prairie, the park, the farm, or the river. Think of where you feel your best in nature, then go there for a dose of grace. You just may find your card strategy in reaching your goals and get a rekindle under feet.

All in all

The grace you give yourself is what will help you have a winning hand. One of the ways to get started is to read affirmations that love on yourself. I have a powerful list of my 30 affirmations. Download them today. Head to freebies to get them.

By CT Copyright © 2019 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 its made for you without your consent.

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

mountain altitude

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 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.

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 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, to take 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 with 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 on 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. 

5 Habits to Break free from Pressure

5 Habits to Break free from Pressure

Pressure, stress, and worry got the best of me; until I unexpectedly stumbled into a promising antidote. A couple of years ago I accidentally deleted my entire website. Yeah, ‘File Not Found’ stared at me in the eyes. My stress level went from a three to a hundred in a matter of milliseconds, to say the least. As a result, about 5 seconds later Worry settled in, and in a matter of 60 seconds, Pressure found it’s the trigger point.

woman stressed out at computer

Fix it, please

Furthermore, because I did my own website work, I couldn’t just call a web person and say, “Fix it please”. All this hard work…GONE. The “undo” button or back arrow was pointless in this case. I tried it. Do you ever have times like these? When you ask yourself, “Why did I just do that? Did that really happen?” Wishing there was an “undo” button?

It’s funny when these stressful mistakes occur and we believe for a split second, maybe it will go away and fix itself, or everything will go back to normal if I just close my eyes. Tell me I’m not the only one who thinks this.

Above all, what really put the icing on the cake was that this website disaster occurred right before bed. Like sleep was going to happen! My brain was fried. Knuckles locked. Fingertips deaden. The courage to push the keys on my keyboard was in deep jeopardy. As a result, when I did find the strength to push buttons, I immediately checked my backup. Well, guess what, it wasn’t working! My ears got hot and gut started to cramp. I needed help.

Just gotta vent

My husband was sleeping already…not that he knows anything about websites…but I needed someone by my side, to listen to my predicament. Through the years I’ve found healing when I talk to someone about an issue. When we “vent” it’s like we release the problem from our minds and put it out in the world for the world to figure out. Maybe the listener can relate to how to deal with the subject. I see “venting” as a pressure cooker. When there is too much pressure, we need to open the cap to let some steam out. Anyway…I needed to vent.

Believe me, many lessons learned here. But my biggest lesson I learned was the gift pressure gave me. Uh? With no one available, I folded my hands and closed my eyes tight, “God, I’m freaking out. I made a mistake and I’m not sure how to fix it. Please help me dig deep and figure this out.” And then I prayed again.

The size of my problem.

All I wanted to do was escape, to get out of the room, away from the keyboard. In the black of the night, I slide on my slippers, grabbed a towel and walked outside. The dark sky peppered with a twinkle. It was a welcoming reminder of how small my problem was and how big the world stands. “Was anyone else in their backyard stressing-out like me?

As I folded my towel into a neat square, I anticipated sitting on it to just be. The shadowy trees surrounded me, but not in an intimidating way. No bugs, no noises, just stillness. I watched my breath let go. The quietness blanketed my shoulders. The earthy air filled my nose. And I felt a peace embrace my soul. There at the moment was the gift.

man standing looking at night sky

Selective Perspective

The value of this stressful night revealed to me perspective. If I didn’t get stressed out, then I wouldn’t have prayed, I wouldn’t have felt the nudge to go outside, I wouldn’t have encounter nature in its nightly glory, and I wouldn’t have experienced the healing powers of my backyard.

According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, spending even just five minutes around trees or in green spaces, like your backyard, helps lower blood pressure, reduces stress, improves mood, instills focus, accelerates healing, increases energy, and improves sleep.* And you wonder why I craved to get outside…

The article goes on to say, “Numerous studies show that… simply sitting looking at the trees reduces stress-related hormones.”

Focus on the calm

Consequently, I know this is hard, but when you encounter pressure or a stressful situation, I challenge you to focus on calming down immediately. In doing so; you will gain a better perspective of the issue and will respond in a wiser manner. After a good 15 minutes, I wasn’t worried anymore. Whether I had to start from scratch or come up with a different solution, it was going to be alright. I stood up, shook my towel out, and walked back inside. My feet slid out of my slippers and I went to bed.

My Take-Away: 5 Habits to Break Free from Pressure

  1. There are gems hidden in stress if you look for them outside the situation.
  2. Back-up everything that is important to you.
  3. Pray without ceasing.
  4. Go outside and take a breather.
  5. Rest to be your best.

The next morning, after a good night’s sleep, I got up extremely early to mend my mishap. With a well-rested body and mind, I was diligent to figure this out. Hence, venturing into the back-end of my website was scary but I succeeded and found an older back-up. Thank the Lord! Later that day I took a long walk amongst the trees while being grateful for my state of being.

By CT Copyright © 2019 More Than Existence, 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.

man sitting overlooking land

Off-track? When our goals and declarations stutter to a stop, our proactive-self immediately turns to 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.

focus on goal

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.

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 breakthrough 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.

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 “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.

This is YOUR year; take things step-by-step, check your motivation, use specifics when setting goals, and FOCUS. May your year be filled with dreams, plans, and amazing goals for your soul.

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

Your Baby Picture Can Do What for Your Identity?

Your Baby Picture Can Do What for Your Identity?

baby sitting

Have you ever looked at your baby picture and asked yourself, “Am I the person you thought I was going to be?” I know that sounds weird asking a baby picture a question, but what do you think your answer would be? Identity, or lack of, affects not only your own well-being but the goodness of others.

Back in 2006, I had one of those “clarity moments”. I’d been in corporate life for a few years; I had a nice paycheck and benefits. Yet I was anxious. I remember looking around the office and asking myself, “Is this what I want my life to look like?” Windowless office, sitting, doing more work than my superior, sitting, trying to look busy on slow days, and sitting. My eyes were tired, my butt was sore, and I felt underappreciated. The worst part was I started to feel disconnected from myself. My abilities and gifts were not being used the way I imagined them to be. Have you been there?

I wanted to blame someone else

I wanted to blame someone else for my circumstance, but I couldn’t because I owned it. You see, I’m NOT a desk-sitting-for-8-hours kind of person, but I didn’t know that then. In fact, I didn’t know who I was anymore. I just went through the motions, identifying myself with my job like everyone else. Get this; more than 70% of people in the workforce aren’t satisfied with their career choices. Well, I was certainly one of those people.*

“Oh Dear God, what do I do?” I prayed. I wasn’t expecting to hear anything back; I just prayed to get it off my shoulders and put it on His.

About a day after that prayer I felt a thump, thump, thump. Something was trying to get my attention. “Who’s there?” A few days went by and again I heard the thumping. On that particular weekend, my parents cleaned their bookshelves and gave me my old photo album. I used to look through this album all the time as a kid. But that evening after I got home, I sat quietly on my bed and flipped through the pages with adult eyes. As I looked inside myself through the pigtails, dirt scuffed knees, and dress-up clothes; I could sense God talking to me but I wasn’t sure what He was saying. So I left it.

‘eh, no big deal’

In 2007 I memorized a few Bible verses thinking ‘eh, no big deal’, but before I knew it I was sitting in my boss’s office reciting the verses and giving up my desk chair! It wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows after I left. In fact, the funny thing was…it didn’t solve my core problem at all, but I now knew what my problem was. My whole obstacle in finding Joy in my journey was my lack of validation that I even existed! 

Back to the photo album, I went to look specifically at my baby picture. I wanted to see what God saw when He created me. As my eyes warmed, my heart dropped a little. After a catch of my breath, I squinted deeply into the picture. My heart thumped, like that thumping, I felt earlier. And I whispered, “I see you. Don’t go anywhere. I’ll catch up.”

My blog started from an identity crisis.

music notes

It’s taken me a while to understand that Identity isn’t a fixed ‘thing’. It isn’t a job, label, health issue, birth order, or past event ‘deal’. Identity isn’t something perfect in its right place. It’s a breathing beat that influences our choices. At times we hear the beat clearly and in a rhythmic pattern; other times it’s faint and conflicting.

During those faint times, life can be frustrating, stressful, and a bit depressing. I’ve been there. And to think this crisis only affects you, is wrong. The people around you feel it too. From that point on I was on a quest to figure out how to make harmony with my identity and what the world throws at it. It’s been a fun ride and an eye-opening venture; I can’t wait to share all I’ve learned and experienced. So I made it my mission to help people find value in themselves and for them to live a life that brings value to others.

One of the ways to do this is to get a better understanding of our identity. Not just by searching within, but looking up. We were made for a reason, so why not ask Him what it is? I want to play my unique beat in a way that sends an inspiring message for the world to hear and learn from. Don’t you? So when you feel the thumping; I hope you know where to look to find out ‘Who’s there’ because without your unique beat, the world suffers a little bit more. Take a look at your baby picture this weekend and ask it a question.

*For more reading about your career and shocking statistics Forbes has a good article here.

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

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

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 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 my 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 of something.

p;ink chair

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 were 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.

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

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