9 Gift Ideas to Warm the Body & Soul

9 Gift Ideas to Warm the Body & Soul

Need some amazing gift ideas? This winter is predicted to be a chilly one, let’s keep our bodies and souls nice and toasty. Gifts that make us feel good are a home-run these days. Sure, candles and blankets are flooding the stores; as well as fuzzy socks and scarfs. Try something different this year, choose a gift people will really use and love. Here are nine great gift ideas that will make a lasting impression on them.

9 gift ideas to warm the body and soul

Gift ideas #1: Leg Warmers

Leg warmers were a big hit in the ’80s largely due to the movie Fame and Flashdance; not to mention aerobics. They may have been a fashion statement, but leg warmers are actually very functional and practical if I say so myself! In the 90’s I wore leg warmers to the gym all the time. During that time I was in college and had to walk everywhere, needless to say, I wore shorts. The leg warmers were super easy to slip on and off over my shoes. Today with the leggings craze, I use my leg warmers to walk the dog in the morning. I simply slide them over my leggings on cold days and I’m good to go! Leg warmers are a great gift for people who live in the city and walk to work, for college students walking to the gym, and for the dog owner on cold days. You can get a pair on Amazon and pick your color!

Gift ideas #2: Heating pads

Heating pads. This sounds like an old person. Hear me out though, heating pads are an awesome way to get the blood flowing to the areas of your body to heal. They don’t just naturally ease sore muscles, but they give you peace of mind. Heating pads are portable, which is great for travel or sitting on the couch. There is nothing more comforting than a warm heating pad against your aches and pains. If you don’t have access to a bathtub or hot shower, a heating pad is the next best thing to warm the bones and bring a sense of calm to your heart.

#3: Hot Chocolate (Dairy-free!)

Hot cocoa – Dairy Free. There is nothing more soothing than sipping on a cup of hot cocoa. It not only warms your insides, but it warms up the childhood memories from coming inside after hours of playing in the snow. When I had to go dairy-free, not to mention gluten-free, I couldn’t have hot chocolate anymore. If I did, I would have repercussions that were not worth it. However, I just discovered that Swiss Miss now makes a dairy-free version! And I gotta say, it’s fantastic. If you have a dairy-free friend, a cup of hot cocoa would be a really awesome gift.

#4: Epson Salts (this is my favorite)

Epson Bath Salts: these are my favorite all year round. Epson salts aren’t just for after a chiropractic or massage appointment, they are for everyday use to release your muscle tightness and rid toxins from your body. They even have Epson salts infused with essential oils, which enhance the bath experience and give your body and mind extra care. My personal favorite is Dr. Teals Chamomile. When I smell the scent of these Epson salts my mind immediately releases and melts into the tub. 

#5: Mini Electrical Fireplace

Small electrical fireplace: This might sound silly, but these small electrical fireplaces are so nice to have around. These days, they are very affordable and portable! They are easy to use and instantly bring warmth to your room both physically and mentally. There is nothing better on a cold winter’s day than having the glow of a fireplace. You don’t need a fancy fireplace to get the same warm fuzzies.  What I love about the electrical is that you can turn on the flames without the heat, because sometimes, you might just want the ambiance without the extra heat.

#6: Essential Oils

Essential Oils: essential oils were the craze in the 20-teens, but they are still beneficial for the mind and body. My essential oils are used every day, mainly for mental goodness, but also for sore muscles. I do have my go-to oils, but there are some no-fail oils to give as gifts, like Tea Tree, Lavender, Peppermint, Lemon, and Frankincense. A little bit goes a long way and gives our senses a treat and healing.

Simplify Firefly Etsy

Gift ideas #7: Instrumental Music

William Augusto: Soaking in His Presence instrumental music. I usually don’t say much about music because everyone has their own taste, but this one is a must. When you just want to escape your reality without having to think about lyrics, this album is a keeper. Soaking in His Presence is beautiful, soft, and welcoming. Love, love, love this! When I want to feel closer to God Almighty, I play this music and pray. This is great when you’re driving and just need a minute to relax and calm your road rage. 😊

#8: LapLander cushion

LapLander: speaking of being in the car. The LapLander is a product that literally everyone could use. It’s a soft cushion with a non-slip strip. It’s designed to place it on your lap so you can put your food on it…without it slipping off. It keeps your food on your lap, not in your lap. The LapLander is very versatile. It can be used to give you more support on your lumbar, a softer cushion to sit on, or even a pillow. It’s a great gift for RVer’s, travelers, campers, tailgaters, commuters, and family road trippers. I personally make this and sell it on Etsy!

laplander

Gift ideas #9: Silk Pillowcase

Silk pillowcase: this has been a game-changer in my sleep…for the better. A silk pillowcase is not only soft and cool, but it’s actually good for your hair! My husband even loves them. I know that a silk pillowcase sounds a little cheesy, but it is the bomb. If you don’t have one yet, I encourage you to get one for yourself!

Wrapping it up!

In wrapping up these great gift ideas, I’m sure you found at least one of them to be a perfect fit for your friend or family member. Who doesn’t want a little warmth to the heart and bones after two years of constant change and uncertainty? Note: these gifts can not only be for Christmas gifts, but for Mother’s Day gifts, Father’s Day, Birthday gift ideas, and even gifts to mend a broken heart. May these gift ideas refresh and bring joy to yourself and those you care about. Surprise someone with one of these thoughtful gifts.

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

Simplify Firefly Etsy

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

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.  

Check price on Amazon

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.

Get it on Amazon

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

Check price on Amazon

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.

Get it on Amazon

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.

Check it out on Amazon

Cheers!

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

The Purpose of Creativity, Not What You Think.

The Purpose of Creativity, Not What You Think.

flame

Creativity is one thing I love to do in the kitchen. I’ll never forget the time when I was 10 years old; I reached for the flour in an overhead cupboard. My fingertips were millimeters away from the canister. One… more… bit… CRASH!

I was successful in getting the flour down, but it wasn’t in the canister… it was on my head. I stood there and sulked as my older sister laughed at me. She called me “Casper”.

Back then my dream was to become a baker. I loved baking cookies, muffins, and quick breads. Mixing simple ingredients with my signature twist was so fun. Unfortunately, its harder for me to bake these days. Not being able to eat gluten really puts a damper on the baking. But I still try and experiment with what I got. 🙂 My baking dream might have fizzled away but my need to create has not.

To truly feel alive I need to create something; whether it’s cookies, a garden, a writing piece, or simply drawing a picture on my son’s lunch bag. It is gratifying to see what my imagination can create. I feel like I did something. Know what I mean?

Why creativity is important

click for details

Creativity isn’t just for fun. Creative thinking can solve problems, help us perform better at our jobs, help with depression, and it can help make a difference in peoples’ lives. Look at music, art, dance, and literature… what are those talents trying to do? Matthew Barnet has a great answer from his book, The Cause Within You.

He says, “Fulfilled artists do not paint or sculpt for the sake of creating more art. They do it to move people and challenge them to see the world differently. “

Want to know what’s scary?

From CreatingMinds.org they say our creativity fades away when we don’t use it. As in the Bible, it says, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything…” Matthew 5:13. (NIV)

In our busy lives, it’s important to take a time-out to be creative; to take a small step in becoming the unique person we were intended to be. Not just for ourselves, but for the sake of others.

The creativity flame still has a glow in us. Let’s blow on it to feed the fire within. There is no better time than now to get our hands busy; our minds will love it, our hearts will feel good, and we may incite someone’s perspective.

Simplify Firefly Etsy

By CT Copyright © 2016 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

Blogging: 4 Reasons Why + 3 Tools to Get You Started

Blogging: 4 Reasons Why + 3 Tools to Get You Started

Do you ever wonder why some people blog? Or what about getting started with a blog, what do you need? Blogging serves everyone differently. Some people write to write, others try to make money, and others simply do it because they enjoy it. These are all great reasons! I personally have three motives for blogging and three tools to help you start on blogging.

What does “Blog” even mean?

According to Google, a blog is a “web-log”. Some say it serves as a personal diary or platform for personal opinions. Yet, businesses write blogs to support their products, and people write blogs to teach about their talents or interests. In other words, it is informal writing compared to published books. You do not have to have a degree in English to write a blog, you don’t even need to have a high school diploma, anyone can write one.

Why do I write a blog?

Back in 2009ish, I started writing a blog. Frankly, I had no idea what I was doing. Blogging was fairly new back then. I could have taken many angles with my blog; my first intent was to teach people about joy. Then somehow it transformed into wanting to share the lessons I’ve learned in life to help others save time. Since then, I’ve pretty much kept with that theme.

1. Gives you a voice

The main reason I started a blog was because I wanted a voice. When I’m in a conversation I tend to listen more than speak. I have learned a tremendous amount about people just by listening to them. However, at times when I do speak, others see it as a chance to speak too. Interrupting others is rude, in case you didn’t know that.

Listen up, speaking is not the only way to be heard in this world. People can voice themselves through music, dancing, drawing, cooking, and frankly any hobby or craft. Blogging gave me an instant voice through writing without interruptions.

2. Processes information

Writing to me is like therapy. It forces me to think about what I want to say and how to say it. When I get thoughts down on paper, it helps me see what really is going on in my life. Then when I blog about it, it helps me figure out what I want to say to others in order to help them in a similar circumstance. Blogging assists me in processing a challenge I am facing.

People learn through stories. If I can share a story of a challenging time in my life where I learned how to navigate through it or something miraculous happened to me to solve it, I want to share that information with others! Testimony is powerful. When we can relate with other people, things happen. Healing happens. Inspiration happens.

3. Remembrance

The other reason I blog is to leave a part of me on this planet. I know that sounds kind of corny, but thinkg about it. A lot of the time when I blog I think about my family. When I’m long gone I still want them to be able to see me, hear me, and learn from me. Whether it’s through a blog post, YouTube video, or social media post, I want my family to be able to see that even though I am in heaven, I am still here with them.

4. Make extra money

Many bloggers blog to make some extra cash. If you can make money on your blog, I see it as an added bonus. There are A LOT of blog posts that tell you how to make money and how easy it can be. But don’t be deceived. Making money by blogging isn’t going to happen overnight. First and foremost, keep your day job. For dollars to roll in, it’s going to require time, energy, researching, and lots of testing. I’m not writing to deter you, I’m just giving you a heads up that it can be harder than people protray…in which they are probably selling a blogging course. Some people make loads of money and I give them a total high five!

I have spent some bucks on a few courses and found them helpful. Did they put me at the top of Google or give me the magic secret to making money? No. But they did give me an education on how it all works, which is super huge to understand. Just know, that there isn’t one course that covers all. Blogging is fairly new and it’s always changing. I highly recommend YouTube and courses that have had many positive reviews.

3 tools to get started blogging

If you want to get started writing a blog it’s going to take a little money. You can try to go free, but at some point, it’s going to require some dollar bills. The amount of money you spend depends on what you want.

Here are some things you’re going to want to think about:

Domain name.

This the website’s address. It must be unique. Think of a few ideas then head over to Domain.com and check to see if it’s available. You can buy your domain at domain.com.

Publishing platform.

This is where you make the website or blog. The platform allows you to design your site and blog on it. WordPress.org is the most popular and it’s free! However there are some plugins (these are like apps on your phone) that can cost money, yet, most are free. Other publishing platforms are Wix, Squarespace, or Blogger. I personally prefer WordPress.org.

Hosting.

This is what connects the domain name to the publishing platform and puts it out there for the world to see. Hosting will cost you money. I highly suggest Flywheel. The people are way cool and it’s easy to use. Hosting is paid for on an annual basis.

Connecting the domain name, publishing platform, and hosting all together can be tricky. If you can’t figure it out on your own, you can hire a webmaster to do it, or you can watch videos on YouTube. Just like that, you’ve got your blog or website for that matter!

Learn from a trusted teacher

If there is anything you get from this post it’s this, there are A LOT of courses out there that claim they can help you, I’ve fallen for some of them and have lost a lot of money. My bad. However, there are a couple of really good ones! My first recommendation is to check out Start A Mom Blog. Suzi does a fantastic job at teaching. She is funny, super smart, and her husband now works with her. They are very down-to-earth and easy to understand. Hands-down, start with her first. You can learn more here.

Wrapping it up

Keep it simple. Only get what you need. You can always add things later. First and foremost, understand why you want to start a blog. After you have that figured out you’ll have a better idea of what you need and who your audience will be.

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

One Huge Reason to Take Up Gardening.

One Huge Reason to Take Up Gardening.

Gardening is more than growing pretty flowers and organic vegetables. A garden serves many purposes, but on this particular day is served a HUGE purpose. Walk with me into my garden to see if you understand where I’m coming from…I know you will.

rose garden

My heart was a mess, so I went to my garden. November is not the perfect month to be blogging about a garden…at least where I live. But it is the perfect month to blog about what my garden DID for me. Not too long ago I found myself walking to my garden, but I didn’t go there to do my normal tending of it. I went there to sit in the dirt.

I had a troubled heart and felt like dirt, so why not sit in it too? If you don’t have a garden, don’t think this post isn’t for you. Each and every one of us has and needs a ‘garden’ for gardening, maybe for the sole purpose of why I needed it on this particular day. Let me explain:

My heart was disturbed

I was completely dumbfounded by how I got myself in this state. Remember, as a kid, when you got in trouble from your parents…the flush of prickly heat bursting from your heart like a firework going off? Yeah. It’s that feeling when you know you really messed up.

Believe me, this wasn’t an easy post to write; in fact, I wasn’t going to write it. But it dawned on me that when my human-self learns something hard and valuable, I should probably tell someone…maybe it will help them in some way.

So here it goes. I unintentionally hurt a dear friend of mine. My doing screwed up a valuable friendship. I messed up. Part of me wanted to crawl into a cave, but the other half wanted to go to a place that knew me. So I went to my garden. As I looked over the rows of flowers and herbs I wrestled with scenarios. I tried to foresee the future. I played back my actions. Why did this happen? How did this happen? This came out of nowhere! My identity jolted.

In my garden that day, my gut was a trembling mess. My heart was anxious. I paced the walking paths and hid my face from my neighbors. As I dug for a tissue I knelt down and stared at the dirt. “Dear God, forgive me. Help me see the root of this action.” I blew my nose, took a deep breath, and got my hands busy. As I plucked little weeds and churned up the soil, layers of thoughts peeled off and exposed the truth. Wow, I didn’t see that coming. How juvenile. We all have our adolescent times, this was one of mine.

The answer

His presence in the garden that day was strong; there is no doubt. I felt His comfort yet discipline. “What must I do to mend this mishap?” I asked Him. As I walked to the other side of the garden, face a dripping mess, Jesus’ words “the truth will set you free” squeeze my heart. But I don’t want to tell the truth, I’m embarrassed, I said.  “If its freedom you seek, the truth will set you free”. After I wrestled with it for about 20 minutes, I dusted myself off and wound up the courage to do just that…tell the truth. What do I have to lose that I already have lost? As soon as I expressed the truth-of-the-matter to my dear friend; my stomach stopped tossing, my mind stopped spinning, and I felt the imprisoned shackles unlock. I exhaled and knew I made the right choice. Thank you.

Why gardening is a must

Gardening is a task where we get our hands busy. Our garden is a place where we can be alone. It is a moment in time where our soul is unguarded, where we can let it free and know it’s safe. A place where we cradled the unique ability our Creator gave us. So what’s your ‘garden’? What place knows you? A woodshop, craft table, mixing bowl, knitting basket, sketch pad, garage, what is it?

When we’re feeling troubled where do you want to go?

me in my garden

Our ‘garden’ opens her arms. She knows that when we get on our knees, we need her touch. She knows we need to get busy, so little projects present themselves. It’s quiet. We’re focused. As we work, the surface looks brighter. It feels good. But as we move throughout the ‘garden’ and dig a little deeper we find a few deep-rooted invasives. These weeds have been there a while. Seeds from their fruit are ready to plant themselves. Is that what we want?

The thistles on the stalk pierce our touch. We may step back for a bit, but find that if we gently grab the very thing that hurt us, we’ll then have the power to wrench and wrestle it free.

Our garden understands the pain that comes with breaking free. So she prays. And because our soul is defenseless to her love, we feel the hope she prayed for. It’s within our gardening where tears nourish her beauty. Where truth is told. And where strength and might persist. It’s a place to rejoice when we pull the weeds out and plant new life in its space.

Gardening…getting dirty to become beautiful

Gardening does more than entertain and strengthen our talents. Our gardens listen, they heal, they comfort. I’ve got some questions for you: What is keeping you captive? When are you going to do something about it? Who do you need to talk to?

I encourage you to visit your special place this week. When you’re there, whisper loud enough for you to hear, and talk about what imprisons your heart. All you’re doing that day is getting the frustrations out. Then revisit your place again later in the week. Get your hands busy. And ask God for help. You may not hear anything right away, but as you live your life over the next couple of weeks be aware of your surroundings, open your senses. He’ll talk to you and give you the answer.

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

5 Easy Ways to Build Courage & Confidence

5 Easy Ways to Build Courage & Confidence

In 2007 my courage collapsed and my heart panted for fullness. My independence, which I held on to so tightly, attached to others. The attitude to do more than exist went to merely existing. But most of all my confidence and courage seeped further away from my core. Have you ever felt this way? Did you wonder how you were going to pull through? Our adversities are not only confusing but paralyzing. However, there are five antidotes to help resurrect us.

white dog running across bridge with courage and confidence

A little background

My hardship started in September of 2007 with a pregnancy disease that birthed at five weeks and proceeded to torment me for 31 weeks thereafter. During that anguish my skin was pale green, my mind a twisted mess of nausea, and relief was too far to be seen; I literally was fighting to just exist. Being dependent on others to help me function, let alone trust, made me feel like a failure. Things like I can’t even take care of myself, swarmed my thoughts. Any physical excursion or consumption, or even water, was a cautious and fear-provoked decision. My ribs pierced from wrenching, and dehydration was the foremost threat.

The instant my healthy 7.1 pound baby boy was born, the sickness disappeared. Yet, the mental anguish was far from healing. Have you experienced an event like this in your life? Was it an illness, an unexpected break-up, a massive hit to your bank account, or a loss of something that meant so dear to you? I think the worse of it all is when it’s done, when we think we made it through, after-shocks sucker-punch us with unforeseen triggers we didn’t see coming.

When things don’t go our way

Those days still impress on my psyche today, how can it not? Yet immediately following the birth of my son, the fear of pregnancy halted our family plan. Two years later I knew I had to fight it. I knew I had to give it one more try; after all, every pregnancy is different. This is where I’d like to tell you the second time around was easier, but friend, it was far from that and left our arms empty.

Answers to ‘how was I going to recover my confidence and courage’ slowly inflated my hope. Those answers didn’t come from a special diet, therapist, or medical doctor. The true answers came from one source, Jesus. He had a plan that didn’t match up with ours and I had to trust Him.

You see when I prayed before our second pregnancy, I didn’t hear a “Yes” as I did with our first. With our first baby, my husband and I waited eight years before I drummed up the courage to even pray about it. And when I did pray, I heard a clear “Yes!” But the second go around, I heard a solid “No”. Of course, I didn’t want to believe it, a no to another child? That doesn’t make sense! So I took my destiny into my own hands. And it didn’t turn out as planned

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Subtle answers

Bit by bit I had to rebuild my confidence and courage using my anguish as building blocks and my faith as mortar. Jesus didn’t come down from a cloud and profoundly say, “You are healed child”. I certainly would have accepted that if He did! It was through His followers who physically passed His love on. He used other people in subtle ways to comfort my broken heart and body. Jesus equips us to love, and honestly, that’s all he wants us to do, is love. In 1 Corinthians 13:7-8 Paul says, “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (NIV)  

I needed to not only learn to love who I was now, but I needed to learn how to use love to become the confident and courageous person I sought out to be. Moving from just existing to living a life of fullness isn’t about accomplishing amazing feats or earning a special degree, and so forth; it’s about loving others the way Jesus does. It sounds easy, but it’s the doing that’s hard.

Healing Words

Five easy additions to building courage & confidence

Since God is love. Who do you think we need to connect with to learn how to love? Rick Warren says, “When you are disconnected from God, you’re not really living; you just exist.”

So, how do we connect with our Heavenly Father? How do we hear clear answers? I go to church. I pray. Isn’t that connecting? Yes, friend, it is. But there are some easy additions which can lead us to live a do-more-than-exist kind of life. Let me share with you what I have learned so far in this journey:

1. Emotion

When clarity is the question, I don’t hold the emotion back. I pray with strong emotion, whether it be anger, sadness, joy, or excitement. Expressing it to Him helps keep things real. Emotion develops a relationship with Him, a trust.

2. Music

Listening, singing, humming, and dancing to music that is good for our souls, brings us closer to our Creator. In this day and age Christian music isn’t just hymns. It has developed to feed all our genres. The writers and bands have done a great job at helping us fend off the Enemy and open our hearts for answers and comfort. Give it a try.

3. Nature

Our beloved Anne Frank says, “The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy amidst the simple beauty of nature. …I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”  Numerous studies show that… simply sitting looking at the trees reduces stress-related hormones. And the University of Minnesota says there’s “a growing prevalence of depression caused by ‘nature deprivation’.” Maybe we should think about spending more time in God’s creation.

4. Church

There is something to be said about being around other Christ-followers. It’s kind of like a family reunion. Being surrounded by a common denominator encourages us, comforts us, and brings us closer to Him. We all have the same goal so-to-speak. The hard part is finding a church that fits you and your worship style. Keep hunting until you find it, you’ll know when you found it.

5. Gratefulness

Being grateful changed my game. For me to love myself and to pass the love on to others, I had to learn how to be grateful even when it didn’t make sense. Gratefulness brought me out of adversity. Before we move forward, understand I’m not grateful for the hardships we face in life. I’m talking about the little things that surround us, those things we don’t even notice; like clean water out of our faucets, cozy beds to rest our bodies, medical help at our fingertips, and grocery stores to feed us. I’m talking about the love He gives us in delicate ways like music, flowers, and comforting smells.

Yet, what about those moments when you step-out and help someone? When you smile at someone even though you don’t feel like it…and they smile back? Sometimes to get what we want we have to give it first. I’m grateful for those promptings where we use our gifts to brighten someone’s day even when our life is a mess. It takes courage and confidence to make those things happen. And I’m grateful for our time He gives us and the freedom to choose how to use it, especially if it involves our calling.

In conclusion

If you’re hurting in a specific area of your life I encourage you to begin with being thankful for each comfort you receive every day. When we recognize the little things, the small achievements, the flickers of love passed hand to hand, then our courage and confidence surface and we begin to see what life is all about…love.  Download my favorite affirmations to help make you stronger. You can get them here. Plus! Here is another post you may find helpful: 10 Amazing Courage Quotes + 3 Tips

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

Contrast or Compare? 3 Tips to be Yourself.

Contrast or Compare? 3 Tips to be Yourself.

To compare is so easy to do, yet it’s extremely damaging and paralyzing. How do we break free? I have 3 tips to help us reward contrast and to not compare. This is just a note from me to you, I thought you might like to hear it.

Lately, I have been reviewing my life and asking myself if I’m happy with how I’ve been living. In most areas of my life I can confidently say Yes, I love it. But in others, I can’t say yes. And when I can’t say yes, I start comparing myself to others in that particular area. Oh how I hate the act to compare, so I’ve had to train myself to admire the contrasts and find my own.

A good verse to memorize

I came across a Bible verse that really struck me, so I memorized it. The number of times this verse has helped me snap back in life has exceeded the number of digits on my hands and feet.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world. Instead, be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is…His good, pleasing, and perfect will. Romans 12:2 (NIV)

This verse jumped out at me because I was finding myself comparing my pattern of life to others’ patterns of life.  Not good. The reason I started to even do that was because there was one area in my life I wasn’t satisfied with, my career. It was nonexistent.

The career compare game

Seeing other people climb the corporate ladder, own a thriving small business, and stay in the job for years on end, made me feel that I  had missed what God’s will was for my life. It’s funny that I have a tendency to base God’s will on a career even though I know it’s not that. I’m obviously still conforming to the pattern of this world in believing so.

3 Tips to help stop comparing:

  • I prayed for my gifts to be revealed and for my mind to be renewed.
  • I reminded myself that everyone is different. To stop comparing because it’s not helpful at all! And to work harder at digging deeper into my own identity and gifts. One way I did this was to read affirmations daily. There is a list of my favorites in Freebies.
  • If I want something to happen, I need to make it happen. I can dream all day, but executing those dreams are scary. But if I want it bad enough, I need to pull my big girl pants up and go get it.

About a few weeks later I felt my creativity come back, I felt my imagination flourish like a child’s, and I took the first step in making my dreams happen, I wrote them down and saw them on paper.

All in all

Even though I don’t have a career like everyone else, I am learning how to embrace the season I’m in right now…being a mom, managing home and health, writing, and creating. God is with us every step of the way, He wants us to enjoy life and flourish, but he doesn’t want us to compare.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, instead help the world come alive by being YOU.

By CT Copyright © 2016 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved

5 Stress Fighters that Most People Forget About.

5 Stress Fighters that Most People Forget About.

spinning sky with mountain stress

Stress got you? Two years ago I accidentally deleted my entire website. The uninvited hot, prickly stress-wave crashed on my face when I saw ‘File Not Found’. It’s in these stressful moments when we start talking out loud to ourselves, “WHAT THE? NO!!” Stress can make us do funny things with our actions, words, and even our bodies. But I’ve found some stress fighters that are packed with a punch. They’re so simple ANYONE can do it TODAY.

Building my own website and blog was my choice. I wanted the challenge. Doing something like this requires time, learning, and creativity. It had been a journey of gratifying moments and ‘oh crap’ sessions. That night was one of those sessions…OOPS. One accidental click, GONE!

Stress is like a leech that won’t detach.

It saps the life out of us. So how do we manage this life-sucking Jabba the Hutt from our bodies? First of all, I hate leeches. Years ago I went on a fishing trip in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota. It was an amazing trip, but guess what we used as bait? Leeches! I screamed every time I TRIED to bait my hook…the leech latched-on to my finger! Do you think vigorous shaking of my hand and screaming got the leech off? Apparently leeches don’t have ears. My husband had to pull it off for me.

What if we could see stress attached to our bodies? We’d probably do a better job at managing it. Stress is the cause of many ailments. It’s because cortisol, the stress hormone, has a hay-day in our bodies. Chronic high levels of cortisol contribute to IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), heart disease, anxiety, high blood pressure, hormonal imbalances, autoimmune disorders, sleep disturbances, the list goes on.

The way to detach stress is to naturally fight back with things that decrease those levels, right? Easier said than done. So get this…some people will use things to manage their stress that actually causes MORE stress! I’m talking about eating a pint of ice-cream, sugar-filled gluten-rich desserts, a bag of salty snacks, alcohol, smokes, or pills. Sure, in the short run those things might help; but in the long term the leech is feasting off those inflammatory substances.  All those foods inflame your innards. Without awareness or portion control, that inflammation can lead to physical issues = STRESS! It’s a vicious cycle. Believe me, I know!

I wanted to fix my website immediately.  But all I could do in that moment was intertwine my fingers and pray. I needed someone to pull the leech off. So why not ask God. As calmly as I could I prayed, “Dear Gracious God…wait a second, OH GOD. AH! I DELETED MY WEBSITE!! HELP ME FIGURE THIS OUT. PLEASE! AMEN.”

My Awakening

beauty and the beast hand

It felt as if my fingertips went numb. Whoa, what is happening to me?  God is that you? An angelic song filled my house as divine power struck my body. Light beams shot out of my fingertips. I started levitating. Wait. Wait. See how stress can make you think of funny things. As much as I wanted the Beauty and the Beast resurrection, I knew it wasn’t in the plan.  In fact, God did answer my prayer. But in a way I didn’t expect.  He nudged me to move. Christy, manage the stress, before managing the problem.  I closed my eyes. Inhaled a deep breath and exhaled slowly. I was afraid to touch the keyboard, so I took that as a sign to step away. My desire to go outside to sit next to my favorite tree was unstoppable. Strange? Eh. Kind of. But with good reason…

According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, spending even just five minutes around trees or in green spaces, 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… Looking at pictures of trees has a similar, but less dramatic, effect.”

I trusted that instinct and sat next to my blue spruce. Its soft yet firm pine needles combed my sweaty palms. The sky was black and peppered with stars. My body relaxed. Heart quieted. I was reminded of how big our world was and how I was making this little mistake bigger than the world! Within a matter of minutes, a calm came over me. “Hi God, it’s me again… thanks for getting me outside. I needed that.”Have you figured out that one thing that everyone can do to fights stress today?

Here are 5 stress fighters most people forget about:

  1. Admit it. Say, “I’m stressed out. ___ is causing my stress.”
  2. Say a prayer… Your Creator may need to remind you of something.
  3. Find your happy OUTDOOR place and go there… the beach, woods, prairie, park, yard…Go barefoot a.k.a “Earthing” and SMILE.
  4. Create an environment at work that promotes peace. Pictures of the beach, mountains, trees, sunrise, a garden…whatever nature scene speaks to you. Put a picture or two in your office, cubical, or wallet. Have it handy.
  5. Start incorporating an outdoor recess at work or home, whether it’s exercising, reading the paper, walking the dog, playing with the kids, a lunch break, just get outside. J

This may sound too simple, but you’ll find it’ll make a BIG impact. The next morning I mended my website mishap. It so happened, I found a back-up on the server. But I wouldn’t have been able to figure that out without a clear head, a good night’s sleep, and a little time outside with my trees. Do your existence a favor, get outside. What is one thing you can do this month to make that happen?

Here is another post about stress you might enjoy: 4 Simple Strategies for You & Your Kids

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

13 Reasons Why You Need a Hobby NOW!

13 Reasons Why You Need a Hobby NOW!

A hobby is more than just a hobby. Have you ever gotten overwhelmed, in a funk, or frustrated about the pace of life? Who hasn’t? It’s going to happen and repercussions may bellow; however, a hobby can help quiet the roar and make you feel human again. But wait! I don’t have time for a hobby! I used to think that way, but after a little experimenting, I found my hobby to be a superhero.

paints

What exactly is a hobby?

It’s an activity that someone does for pleasure when they are not working. The hard part is knowing when to stop working! With a hobby, time is not ticking in your ear. You’re not looking at the clock to see when your shift is over. It’s your gift to self, so you can be yourself. When you’re under heavy stress our bodies produce more cortisol which can be harmful to your health. But when we’re engaged in, let’s say, a hobby, you’re producing the ‘feel-good’ hormones…more on this

A hobby is a type of recreation that rejuvenates your spirit. It’s an activity that challenges you in a way in which you want to be challenged. You see, your hobby is YOUR hobby. No one can tell you how to do it unless you welcome the suggestions.

13 Reasons why you need a hobby now

Top 13 reasons to get a hobby:

1. Helps enhance meaning in your life.

2. Gets the creative juices flowing.

3. Increases personal satisfaction.

4. Builds self-confidence and self-esteem.

5. Relieves stress.

6. Gives you something to talk about other than work.

7. Helps you meet new people.

8. Contributes to society or the community.

9. Boosts brain power and cognitive function.

10. It has the potential to create extra income.

11. Gateway to happiness.

12. This is a big one: helps prevent boredom when boredom can be harmful to you. Let me expand on this one: overeating, depression, drug use, looking at things you shouldn’t, or alcohol use usually come into play when we’re bored. Boredom and its adverse effects are going to get the best of us at times, but when we have a hobby we have an easy way out and can focus on that.

13. The icing on the cake about a hobby is that it actually helps you do a better job at work. CNBC posted an article about how a hobby can improve your work performance. For one, it helps prevent burn-out. As said earlier, it helps inspire creativity and problem solve. And here’s that word again, stress. A hobby helps reduce stress. 

Back to hormones.

silhouette standing in start

Hormones are a love/hate relationship. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. As said earlier, the most damaging hormone is cortisol which is produced in our bodies when we’re under stress. The good news is that happy hormones do exist, but to get them we must do a few things. There are four major blissful boostersendorphins, serotonin, dopamine, and oxytocin. Each hormone serves a different purpose, in a nutshell, this is what they do:

  • Endorphins are essentially the body’s pain killers. Vigorous exercise or even eating spicy food releases endorphins.
  • Serotonin is the mood mediator. Get outside. Being in the sun helps our bodies produce vitamin D, which helps produce serotonin. Or even low-intensity exercise helps.
  • Dopamine is a gratifying hormone, in terms of goal achievement. It’s all about goals and achieving them to bring on the dopamine. We set an achievable goal and go after it, when we reach it, dopamine is experienced.
  • Oxytocin. This is the love hormone. I think my husband has an abundance of this one! LOL. Physical contact, hugs, massage, and sex release this hormone.

When it comes to your hobby, aim to achieve one of these hormones. Now if you want to experience all the bliss boosters at once, you might want to look into “R5HHPJ” as your hobby: Run 5 miles while holding hands with your honey, drinking hot pepper juice from your water bottle…now that’s a hobby! Sorry had to throw it in there.LOL!

What are some great hobby ideas?

This is a loaded question because you can make a hobby of your own; the trick to finding one you love is to try some on. Here are some ideas of hobbies:

Knitting, exercising, reading, couponing, writing, music, woodworking, organizing, auto work, boating, horseback riding, hobby farming, candle making, photography, dance, winemaking, cooking, traveling, wilderness survival, Bible memory, drawing, painting, decorating, gardening, hunting, fishing, camping, running, kayaking, cycling, walking, surfing, sewing, essentially any sport, home brewing, collections, puzzles, and pretty much anything other than work.

FYI – watching endless episodes on Netflix or being glued to social media is not considered a hobby, nor is it something that can harm you. Remember a hobby is something that gives YOU personal enjoyment yet still a little challenge to enhance your well-being. This could very well be the peacekeeper you’ve been looking for to help balance life. What’s stopping you?

By CT Copyright © 2019 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved

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